Georgia Civil War Commission
Quarterly Meeting Minutes
Saturday, August 26, 2017
Chairman John Culpepper called the meeting to order at 1:01 pm on August 26, 2017 at Washingtonton Historical Museum in Wilkes County, Georgia. Commissioners present were John Culpepper, Kelly Barrow, Ken Griffiths, Karen Ledford, Brain Wills, James Yancey, Curt Collier, Inger Eberhart, and John Carroll. Commissioners not present were Edward Shelor, Charlie Lott, and Rusty Henderson. Cassie Barrow, Chief of Staff, was present. Members of the audience consisted of Stephanie Macchia, Curator of Washington Historical Museum; Ray Chandler; Mike Dodd, Pvt John Ingrham SCV Camp #1977; Ken Ledford; David Denard, Commander Military Order of Stars and Bars; Hank Segars; Debra Denard, Atlanta #18 UDC; Jimmy Pettit, President Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield; and Stephanie Pettit.
Chairman Culpepper announced that the meeting had been sent to the local newspaper, as well as posted on social media and at the location; therefore, complying with the Sunshine Law.
Commissioner Barrow opened the meeting in prayer. Since there were no United States or Georgia flags, the pledges were dispensed.
A quorum was established by Chairman Culpepper, allowing for the meeting to be considered legal.
At this point, Chairman Culpepper explained the purpose of the Commission and the Senate Resolution that created it. The Governor, Lt. Governor, and Speaker of the House appoints five Commissioners to serve an allotted time. Chairman Culpepper requested for each of the Commissioners present to introduce themselves. Following this, the members of the audience were asked to introduce themselves and the group he/she was representing.
Chairman Culpepper requested for a motion to amend the agenda to add item number 17A – Thank you letter from Robert E. Lee Chapter United Daughters of the Confederacy. Commissioner Carroll made this motion and Commissioner Wills seconded it; motion carried. Chairman Culpepper then asked for a motion to approve the agenda with changes. Commissioner Collier made the motion to approve the amended agenda and Commissioner Barrow seconded; motion carried. Amended agenda is attached to the minutes.
Chairman Culpepper reminded everyone the minutes from the May Quarterly Meeting were emailed to each Commissioner for review prior to this meeting. Clerical changes were sent to Chief of Staff Barrow and made prior to the meeting. Commissioner Collier made a motion to accept the minutes with clerical errors corrected; Commissioner Carroll seconded. Motion passed.
2017-18 financial report was read by Chief of Staff Barrow; the report is attached. Since Nash Farm Battlefield Museum was closed immediately and unexpectedly after the last Commission meeting. it was notated that a small storage room was rented to house the Commission’s items until they could be appropriately housed. In addition to that, the Commission paid one-month storage to house the General display for the Friends of Resaca. The Commission had helped to pay for this museum exhibit at Nash Farm Battlefield Museum. When it was given to the Friends of Resaca, they were unable to accept the gift in the short time given to remove it from its former home. Due to this, the Commission paid to store the display for 30 days, allowing ample time for the Friends of Resaca to place the exhibit in its new home. Finally, Chairman Culpepper reported that the Commission had received $25,000 from the State of Georgia for our 2018 budget. A motion was made by Commissioner Eberhart to accept the 2017-18 financial report; Commissioner Collier seconded.
At this time, Chairman Culpepper asked if anyone in the audience had anything they would like to bring before the Commission that was not on the agenda. There was no business brought before the Commission.
Under Old Business: Chairman Culpepper recognized Chief of Staff Barrow to give a report on the Southeastern Homeschool Expo that the Commission participated. Chief of Staff Barrow asked Commission Eberhart to give her views first since this was her first experience at the Southeastern Homeschool Expo. Commissioner Eberhart reported that the Commission’s table was very busy, with parents of children of all ages asking multitudes of questions. The top questions were where the best field trip locations that are homeschool friendly and where to find additional material or curriculum to teach this period of time. Commissioner Eberhart’s recommendation was for the Commission was to update the website to include more resources for teachers and parents. This would require that the Education Committee, consisting of Commissioners Eberhart, Ledford, and Barrow, along with Chief of Staff Barrow, would need to work to make or find those materials to place on the site. Commissioner Barrow, who also attended the expo on Saturday discussed that the parents were glad that the homeschool community was being included in the essay and art contest. Chief of Staff Barrow, who was there all-day Friday and Saturday stated that over 600 maps, pencils, Georgia’s Confederate Counties, and greeting cards with the artwork from last year’s winners were given to at least 1,000 families. Miscellaneous items that were given to the Commission by the Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield were also distributed during the expo. The families that won the baskets on Friday and Saturday were honored and excited to get new books and hands-on items to improve their knowledge about the War. Chief of Staff Barrow agreed with Commissioner Eberhart’s recommendation and added that the Commission should plan on being in attendance for the July 2018 Southeastern Homeschool Expo. Chairman Culpepper stated it was already budgeted for 2018, but Chief of Staff Barrow reminded the Commissioners that officially they had not voted to attend the expo. Commissioner Collier made the motion that the Commission would be an exhibitor at the Southeastern Homeschool Expo in July of 2018 and Commissioner Carroll seconded. The motion carried. Chief of Staff Barrow shared the final suggestion from parents was to have the art contest through 12th grade, instead of ending it at 6th grade. Commissioner Barrow made a motion to include 7-12th grades in the art class with the same monetary prize amounts for the upper grades, with Chief of Staff Barrow having the ability to change the categories as needed. The motion was seconded by Commissioner Collier and was passed. Commissioner Wills shared that Kennesaw State University Civil War Center has some resources on their website that could be utilized on the Commission page.
Chairman Culpepper asked Chief of Staff Barrow to give a status report from the Education Committee researching if the field trip assistance program, like the one the Civil War Trust has. Due to not having discussed with all the committee, Chief of Staff Barrow asked if it could be tabled for the last time.
Chairman Culpepper gave a report on the interpretative marker about Union General Sherman being in Walker County, Georgia, which was approved previously by the Commission. The text is an article written by Lee White, a park ranger at Chattanooga/ Chickamauga National Battlefield, who gave the Commission permission to use. At this time, images have not been sent to accompany the text, so Chairman Culpepper is waiting for those before sending to Bill Dodd to format. Commissioner Barrow was asked to give a report on the James S. Boynton and the Georgia Military Institute interpretative signs. Per Commissioner Barrow, the signs have been sent to Chief of Staff Barrow for final editing, who will send them to Mr. Dodd for formatting.
Next on the agenda was the Governor and Lt. Governor’s Commission Appointments. Chairman Culpepper discussed how increasingly difficult it was to get a quorum due to vacancies and inactivity of certain Commissioners. He shared again with the Commissioners that he had requested the Governor in a letter dated April 24, 2017 to appoint former state legislator Fred Aiken to the Commission. To date, Chairman Culpepper has not heard from the Governor’s office about this appointment. On June 16, 2017, Chairman Culpepper sent a letter recommending Hank Segars from Madison and Ken Smith from Hazelhurst. Again, no action has been taken by the Lt. Governor on this request. Chairman Culpepper asked Commissioner Barrow to please tell the other Commissioners about the three individuals that have been submitted. Commissioner Collier made a motion to have an individual contact the Governor and Lt Governor’s appointment secretary, but a second was not given. Chairman Culpepper stated that the Commission has done all it can do, the referred individuals needed to call the different offices. Afterwards, it was discussed that the Speaker has two Commissioners that have not been to a meeting in over two years. It was decided that Chairman Culpepper needed to send a letter to the individuals asking them to attend the next Quarterly Meeting or resign. In an effort to help the quorum issue, Commissioner Carroll made a motion to amend the bylaws to base the quorum on the seated members, not the 15 total members, which he withdrew since a bylaw change would need to go before the Attorney General of Georgia. A resolution was not able to be found, so it was left that maybe by the next Quarterly Meeting the Governor, Lt. Governor and Speaker would fill the vacancies and address those noncommittal Commissioners.
Chairman Culpepper explained that Commissioner Eberhart had sent the Quarterly Newsletter and Annual Report for the Commissioners to review. Chief of Staff Barrow has worked with Commissioner Eberhart to clear up clerical and interpretation issues. Commissioner Griffiths made a motion to approve the Quarterly Newsletter with any needed corrections; Commissioner Barrow seconded. Motion carried. Commissioner Barrow made a motion to approve the Annual Report; Commissioner Wills seconded this motion that passed. There was discussion of who to send these items to. It was agreed upon that both needed to be placed on the webpage, as well as sending them to the Governor, Lt Governor, Speaker, and other legislators that have been friendly to the Commission. The Commission assigned Chief of Staff Barrow to have the newsletter and report printed and sent to the aforementioned individuals. It was asked that she include the greeting cards with the art work from the previous year’s art contest winners. Chairman Culpepper stated that during the 2018 legislative session, it would be important for the Commission to have a presence at the Capitol. He, along with Chief of Staff Barrow, would frequent the Capitol starting in January.
The Robert E. Lee Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy in Milledgeville sent a nice thank you note that Chairman Culpepper read to the Commissioners. The Commission had given $2,500 in funds in the 2017 fiscal year to help fix the Confederate monument that was damaged in an incident with a car. The Sons of Confederate Veterans gave the remaining $5,000 that was needed to complete this project. A rededication would be scheduled as soon as the monument repairs were completed.
Chairman Culpepper reminded the Commission that the recipients that received funds from the Commission have one year to spend the money or come back to give a reason why the money was not spent.
Under New Business, Chairman Culpepper thanked Senator Jeff Mullis for once again assisting the Commission in obtaining $25,000 for the 2018 fiscal year. The money flows through the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to us. At this time, the money has been sent to Chief of Staff Barrow to deposit.
OCGA 50-3-1 protects all monuments in Georgia. Chairman Culpepper read the law to the Commissioners to make sure they were aware of the verbiage. Part of the Commissions mission, per the Senate resolution, is preservation. This law went into effect in 2010. It was requested that when the webpage was revamped with the educational resources, this be put on the site as well. This law has been placed on our social media outlets so that citizens of Georgia are aware of its verbiage as well. At this point in the meeting, an in-depth discussion between the Commissioners began about what should or should not be placed on social media. A motion was made by Commissioner Eberhart and seconded by Commissioner Collier to allow Chief of Staff Barrow to continue to post current events as they pertain to Georgia and her history on Social Media in an order to keep the citizens of Georgia aware of the many thought processes around the state. A roll call vote was requested by Commissioner Eberhart: Commissioner Ledford no, Commissioner Griffiths no, Commissioner Wills no, Commissioner Yancey yes, Commissioner Eberhart yes, Commissioner Collier yes, Commissioner Carroll yes, Commissioner Barrow yes. The motion passed with 5 yes and 3 nae. Commissioner Collier brought up that with the influx of current events, Chief of Staff Barrow is spending a large amount of time keeping the Commission FaceBook page current and monitoring all comments. On February 20, 2015, the Commission voted to pay a cap of 3 hours per week to Chief of Staff Barrow for her time maintaining the FaceBook page. Commissioner Collier made a motion to extend the cap to 4 hours and Commissioner Wills seconded. A voice vote passed this recommendation. Commissioner Barrow abstained from the vote.
Commissioner Barrow made a motion that the Commission write a statement to address historic preservation of monuments and locations, as is defined in the Senate Resolution that is the Commission’s mission statement, and to state that the Commission supports the current law, OCGA 50-3-1, as it is written, but would consider amending the code to strengthen the penalties on vandalism. This statement would be issued to the press and shared on Social Media. This motion was seconded by Commissioner Carroll. Discuss began with many ideas, opinions, and feelings being shared. Commissioner Wills made a motion to table the vote until the next Quarterly Meeting of the Commission to allow future study of the issue, which was seconded by Commissioner Yancey. Chairman Culpepper called for a roll call vote for the motion to table: Commissioner Ledford yes, Commissioner Griffiths yes, Commissioner Wills yes, Commissioner Yancey yes, Commissioner Eberhart yes, Commissioner Collier no, Commissioner Carroll no, Commissioner Barrow no. Motion to table the discussion and vote on the Commission making a statement considering the recent events carried with 5 yeas and 3 nos.
Chairman Culpepper reminded the Commissioners that per the by-laws, it was time to elect 2017-18 officers. Commissioner Collier made a motion to maintain the current slate of officers, which consists of Chairman John Culpepper, Vice Chairman Kelly Barrow, Secretary James Yancey, and Treasurer Inger Eberhart, and Commissioner Griffiths seconded the motion that passed.
Chairman Culpepper stated that the Executive Committee consisted of the four officers and two individuals appointed by the Chairman. Commissioner Griffiths and Commissioner Collier were appointed by Chairman Culpepper.
Chairman Culpepper thanked the Washington Historical Museum for their hospitality and planning the delicious luncheon. It was discussed that since Nash Farm Battlefield Museum was closed, a centrally located meeting area needed to be found. The Winter Quarter would be at Kennesaw State University in conjunction to the joint educational symposium. Chief of Staff Barrow shared the locations she had already reached out to, and stated one of the main difficulties is that many venues now have weddings that are planned literally more than a year out, making it impossible to get a date with only 2-3 months’ notice. She requested that Commissioners inquire if there was a nominal, preferably free, location in their area that the Commission could utilize. She is willing to make the detailed plans if the Commission would just began the initial contact process.
At the end of the meeting, each Commissioner has the opportunity now to bring something before the Commission. Commissioner Barrow congratulated Chairman Culpepper in doing a great job of running the Commission meetings and keeping the Commissioners on task.
Most of the Commissioners stated that there was a need for prayer for our country and each was honored to be a member on the Commission to help preserve Georgia’s rich Civil War history.
Commissioner Wills informed the Commissioners and guests that KSC Civil War Center was hosting a bus tour to McClemore’s Cove near Chickamauga on October 7, 2017. Park Ranger Jim Ogden would lead the tour.
Commissioner Yancey expressed surprise at the closure of Nash Farm Battlefield Museum shortly after the Commission’s last Quarterly Meeting honoring the essay and art contest winners.
Chairman Culpepper thanked everyone for having the confidence in allowing him to lead as Chairman for another year.
Chief of Staff Barrow, on behalf of Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield, expressed a heartfelt thanks to the Commission for working alongside the Friends to preserve the history at Nash Farm. Majority of the items in the gift shop was donated to the Commission to use as they saw fit. A large amount of the smaller items was used at the Southeastern Homeschool Expo as handouts to those interested, or in the gift baskets. However, there were still two or three boxes of books that were in the storage room that needed to be discussed. Commissioner Wills stated that KSU Civil War Center could use the books in various ways, so it was agreed upon that Chief of Staff Barrow would take the books to Commissioner Wills for him to use as he saw fit.
Tentatively, the next Quarterly Meeting was scheduled for November 4, 2017 at 1:00 at Washington Historical Museum, if a luncheon would precede the meeting. Chairman Culpepper asked for a motion to adjourn. Commissioner Carroll made the motion that Commissioner Ledford seconded.
Respectfully submitted by Cassie Barrow, Chief of Staff
Georgia Civil War Commission