Relocation of the Confederate monument that stood in front of the Pitt County Courthouse is on hold, the county manager reported during Monday’s Pitt County Board of Commissioners meeting.
The board was scheduled to vote on a resolution authorizing the monument’s donation to the N.C. Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans at Monday’s meeting. However, the item was pulled after the commander of the state division told the county attorney that the organization wouldn’t accept the monument, County Manager Scott Elliot said.
However, members of the Pitt County chapter of the organization said they would accept the donation and continue with plans to erect it on privately owned property located on N.C. 43 South about eight miles from Greenville.
“We are having to work with them to make sure they have the appropriate papers from the state, as an organization, so at this point and time the project is on hold,” Elliott said.
The monument was removed from the Pitt County Courthouse grounds in June, less than a month after local protests over the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Flag poles near the monument were damaged during the protest, Elliot said. At other times the 27-foot monument, which featured a bronze Confederate soldier standing on a marble and concrete base, had been vandalized with paint, he said.
County Attorney Janis Gallagher said the resolution authorizing the donation will still need board approval before the monument is moved and erected.
The commander of the N.C. Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans wasn’t the only opponent to the move.
During the board’s public comments period, Elliott read a letter on the topic that has been left at his office, even though the author did not supply his or her name.
The Board of Commissioners traditionally requires individuals speaking during the public comment period to identify themselves and provide an address.
The letter writer opposed erecting the statue at the N.C. 43 South location, which is property owned by former county commissioner and school board member Ephraim Smith and about a half-mile from Chicod School.
“How can we justify removing a racially sensitive 27-foot Confederate soldiers monument from the Pitt County Courthouse steps and re-assembling it with Pitt County taxpayers money within the heart of Pitt County near two public schools not even a mile away,” the letter stated. While the writer mentioned Chicod School, the second school was not identified.
The letter writer said people in the Chicod community had the same sensitivities to the monument that others had.
The commissioners rejected a request to send the North Carolina Attorney General a letter requesting the office help Suddenlink customers with complaints internet and cable service.
Instead, the board voted 5-4 approving a motion to “develop a procedure or policy for complaints regarding internet providers in an effort to not single out a provider.”
Commissioner Christopher Nunnally made the motion, saying he did not think the commissioners should single out a specific provider.
Nunnally’s original motion was more complicated because he wanted to create a process where constituents who didn’t receive help from the attorney general or through remediation with the internet provider could turn to the county so it could “support and bolster that constituent’s complaint and really start to bring it to the next level all in an effort to make sure we are not singling out a provider.”
Elliott expressed concerns over Nunnally’s motion.
“I don’t want to promise too much to the citizens based on the fact that we don’t have franchise authority,” Elliott said.
Under North Carolina laws, local governments have no authority over the operations of internet/cable franchise providers.
The attorney general’s office attempts to mediate complaints filed with its consumer protection division. Complaints also can be filed with the Federal Communications Commission at https://consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us.
Elliott suggested posting a link to the state attorney general’s office on the Pitt County government website but said he didn’t think the county could intervene on every local complaint.
“While I understand what the substitute motion is supposed to cover, it misdirects away from what the original issue was, which is Suddenlink,” Commissioner Tom Coulson said.
Joining Nunnally in voting for his motion were Commissioners Ann Floyd Huggins, Melvin McLawhorn, Beth Ward and Mary Perkins Williams; voting against it were Coulson and Commissioners Mike Fitzpatrick, Alex Albright and Lauren White, who originally proposed sending a letter to the attorney general’s office as Craven County and eight surrounding municipalities have done.
White later expressed her disappointment with the board’s actions.
“I would like to apologize to the citizens of Pitt County that we couldn’t get enough support to send a simple letter to the appropriate people to address the concerns with Suddenlink,” she said. “To my fellow commissioners who voted no tonight on a motion that just puts the burden back on citizens, I want to thank you for your support.”