Stone Mountain approves cemetery cleanup amid debate over Confederate graves

The entrance to the Stone Mountain city cemetery. Photo obtained via the city of Stone Mountain

By Tenesha L. Curtis, contributor 

Stone Mountain, GA — The Stone Mountain City Council voted Sept. 6 to approve a contract for cemetery clean-up, but not without debate about whether that would extend to Confederate memorials.

City Council approved a contract with Ground Guys in an amount not to exceed $9,030 for a one-time cleanup of the cemetery.

Councilmember Clint Monroe, who voted against it, said, “I believe the amount of $9,030 to be excessive to pay for the one-time cleanup. I believe our public works department is quite capable of doing it, as they have in the past, and they should be tasked with the cleanup of the city’s cemetery.”

He noted that the portion of the cemetery where there is a Confederate memorial should not be maintained.

“A cemetery is separate from a memorial,” Monroe said.

According to the city’s website, the cemetery – located off Silver Hill Road – “contains graves of veterans from the Civil War to the present.” It was established in 1850.

Councilmember Gil Freeman, who also voted against the contract, agreed with Councilmember Monroe.

“The Confederate section of the cemetery should not be maintained with public funds,” Freeman said. “As a matter of fact, it should be removed. It serves no purpose.”

He invited anyone who supports the Confederacy to volunteer their own time and their own money to clean the memorial privately.

“Public funds should not be used to maintain a Confederate memorial,” Freeman said.

Councilmember Monroe proposed amending the contract to swap out the third-party contractor for the city’s public works department.

The city’s attorney advised that a separate item would have to be added to a later agenda for that and that at this meeting the vote was merely to approve or disapprove what is on the agenda.

Councilmembers Gina Stroud Cox, Chakira Johnson, Shawnette Bryant, and Teresa Crowe voted to approve the contract as it was submitted.

In other business, two little league football teams submitted proposals for long-term facility usage at Medlock Park.

The Hurricanes offered $1,000. The Generals offered $4,800. Each team would be using the park from this summer until summer 2023. The Hurricanes’ representative, Coach Lincoln Ware, had spoken with the council in previous meetings about using the park on a long-term basis, including the field and the concessions and restroom areas. There was no representative present for the Generals.

The contract was approved unanimously.

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