Georgia Civil War Commission
Quarterly Meeting Minutes
Saturday, August 4, 2018

Chairman John Culpepper called the meeting to order at 1:00 on August 4, 2018 at Morgan County Library in Madison, Georgia. Commissioners present were John Culpepper, Kelly Barrow, Karen Ledford, Brain Wills, Curt Collier, Inger Eberhart, Ken Griffiths, and Hank Segars, John Carroll. Commissioner not present was James Yancey. Cassie Barrow, Chief of Staff, was present. Members of the audience consisted of Kenneth Ledford; William Barrow; Henry Bryant, BATL; Gray Smith.

Chairman Culpepper sent an announcement of the meeting to the Morgan Citizen on August 1, 2018 to publish in the notices, as well as the announcement was posted on social media and at the location in compliance with the Sunshine Law.

Commissioner Barrow opened the meeting in prayer. Commissioner Collier lead the pledge to the United States and Commissioner Carroll lead the pledge to Georgia.  

A quorum was established by Chairman Culpepper, allowing for the meeting to be considered legal.

Chairman Culpepper requested for each of the Commissioners present to introduce themselves. Following this, Vice Chairman Barrow welcomed the audience and requested they introduce themselves and the group he/she was representing.

Chairman Culpepper requested a motion to approve the agenda. Commissioner Carroll made the motion to approve the agenda as printed and Commissioner Wills seconded; motion carried. 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 Eberhart seconded. Motion passed.

The final 2017-18 financial report and the new 2018-19 financial report was read by Chief of Staff Barrow. Chairman Culpepper explained that the Commission only has $25,000 for the fiscal year. Treasurer report is attached to the minutes. Commissioner Carroll made a motion to accept the report, Commissioner Wills seconded, and motion carried. The 2017-18 financial report was given to Commissioner Eberhart of the internal audit.

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. Nothing was presented.

Under Old Business: Chairman Culpepper recognized Henry Bryant, Chairman of BATL, to give the Commission an update on the McPherson and Walker monument restoration project the Commission contributed towards. With the change in the political atmosphere in Atlanta, the schedule for this project had at one point been slowed to a halt. However, Mr. Bryant shared a master plan has been finalized, and the conceptualization been put into motion. At present $192 thousand is the final cost of both monuments being restored. The McPherson monument appears to be in worse shape with the foundation being erode with time and environment. Once the monuments are removed, it will be taken to a location in Woodstock to be cleaned and sealed. The Walker monument has a bench design around the actual monument in order to protect it from vehicles. On the benches it will tell the story of the monument. Mr. Bryant stated that this project should not take long, but with the City of Atlanta involved, it will take about a year. To be able to start, BATL needs additional funds, or to be given funds allocated to them through different bond referendums. The plans are being reviewed by the City of Atlanta to make sure they are up tp code and meet ADA standards. Mr. Bryant is to meet with the mayor of Atlanta the following week in hopes to get the final approval to start this project. BATL is also working with PATH to design a trail that connects the two monuments.

Chairman Culpepper stated he had received a letter from City of Atlanta Commission Archibald showing her support of this project and it was in the packet given to each Commissioner. (Letter is attached.) Because these funds the Commission operates with are the State of Georgia’s, he stressed that the Commission must be good stewards of these funds. Per the last meeting, the Commission had requested the return of the $7 thousand dollars the Commission had given to BATL for the restoration of these two monuments. Chairman Culpepper sent a letter to Mr. Bryant requesting the return. It was agreed electronically to let Mr. Bryant come to give the Commissioners an update before making the final request to have the money returned to an escrow account. Chairman Culpepper asked the opinion of the Commissioners as to the next step. A discussion about what may happen at the meeting with the mayor of Atlanta ensued. Mr. Bryant agreed that the meeting could be positive or negative. Chairman Culpepper reminded the Commissioners that the issue on the table was if BATL should be allowed to keep the $7 thousand dollars or give back to the Commission to escrow for a year. Commissioner Carroll made a motion that the organization BATL may keep the $7 thousand with the stipulation that both monuments must be restored on or before June 30, 2019. If not, the funds must be returned to the Commission on or before June 30, 2019. Additionally, BATL must submit quarterly statuses and bank statements for the Commission to review. Commissioner Griffiths amended the motion to state that the returning of Commission funds should be a priority. Commissioner Eberhart seconded both. Amendment and motion passed.

Next on the Agenda was Education Committee Report. Chairman Culpepper recognized Commissioner Eberhart to give an update on the Art Expo at the Collector’s Showcase at Kennesaw State University and Southeastern Homeschool Expo where the Commission had a booth. Commissioner Eberhart stated that both were a success. Having the students come to the Collector’s Showcase to see their artwork on display and receive his/ her award added so much to that event. The students not only were able to see the artwork, but also artifacts from the Civil War era. It was an environment that encouraged learning and understanding. The collectors were excited to see young people there as well. Commissioner Wills agreed it was a perfect pairing of two worlds at one event. Chairman Culpepper said that by having the students at the Collector’s Showcase, it allowed the Commissioners to talk to the winners and the families, making it more personal. Commissioner Carroll made a motion of a sponsorship of $1,000 the Collector’s Showcase in July of 2019, with the agreement that the Commission would once again display the winning artwork from the Commission contest. Commissioner Eberhart seconded the motion that carried.

Commissioner Eberhart went on the say that the Southeastern Homeschool Expo was an opportunity for the Commission to help the ever growing homeschool population in and around Georgia. Not only did the Commission give away calendars with the winning artwork and information about the up-coming art and essay contest, but the Commission answered questions, encouraged, and engaged the parents and students that attended the expo. Chief of Staff Barrow stated the attendance numbers were down, but that the event was once again beneficial to the Commission and homeschool community. The Commission’s goal was not to sell, but to be a tool homeschool families could use. Chief of Staff Barrow stated that this year the art and essay contest rules and regulations were placed in the expo goody bag, meaning that even if a person did not stop by the booth, he/ she received the information about the contests. Commissioner Eberhart stated the calendars were a hit for everyone and should be our way of showcasing the winners every year. Commissioner Barrow made a motion that the Commission would participate in the Southeastern Homeschool Expo in July of 2019. Commissioner Eberhart seconded and the motion passed.

Chairman Culpepper gave a report on the interpretative marker about Union General Sherman being in Walker County, Georgia, which was approved 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. Chairman Culpepper said the sign is ready and now waiting on the final approval from the county. Commissioner Barrow was asked to give a report on the James S. Boynton, James Hughes, and the Georgia Military Institute interpretative signs. Per Commissioner Barrow, the signs have been formatted. The GMI sign is on hold since the Friends of Resaca and the State of Georgia are now unsure on the procedures of allowing a third party to place a sign at the battlefield. Once the procedures are in place, Ken Padgett will contact Chief of Staff Barrow to discuss the placement of the GMI sign. The other two signs are ready to be placed once final approval from the Oakhill Cemetery is obtained. However, the cemetery is no longer granting approvals, so Commissioner Barrow must submit the signs to the City of Griffin City Manager in an attempt to have the signs placed on the agenda for a future city commission meeting. Chairman Culpepper stated that it seems there are road blocks preventing the placement of the signs. Until a change is made in the status of one of the signs, this would be the last update. It was explained by Chairman Culpepper that the signs were National Parks standard and the Commission has placed numerous over the years to tell the more about Georgia’s obscure Civil War history.

Chairman Culpepper asked Commissioner Eberhart to give a status of the Johnston’s River Line Park, which is where unique shoupades are located, name change. Commissioner Eberhart stated after giving some background, that a compromise had been presented, but that it appeared the Kennesaw City Commissioner Cupid had tabled the name change to an undetermined time. Chairman Culpepper reminded everyone that the shoupades are listed on the National Register of Historical Pleases. That this was an issue of preservation, as well as important to the economy due to heritage tourism.

Commissioner Eberhart had created a Quarterly Newsletter to reach out to the Georgia Legislatures, boards of educations, teachers, and other interested parties. Chairman Culpepper asked her to update the Commissioners on this project. Commissioner Eberhart said that of the teachers and boards of education 22% of the newsletter was open. 18% of Georgia Senators and 20% Georgia Representatives opened the newsletter. It is free to send the newsletter attached to a mass email. Also, the newsletter is placed on the FaceBook account as well. Commissioners were encouraged to contribute to the newsletter.

For agenda item 17, the idea to have press releases to help create heritage tourism was discussed at the previous meeting.  A motion was made last meeting to have the Education Committee to handle this. Chairman Culpepper, after discussing if this addresses the situation, appointed a sub-committee of the Education Committee to handle public relations. Commission Seagars will work on the focus of the press releases, Commissioner Eberhart will focus on the newsletter and end of year report, Commissioners Ledford and Barrow will continue to focus on the educational aspect of the committee, and Chief of Staff Barrow will assist as needed.

Chairman Culpepper stated that Governor Deal had two available appointments and three reappointments, Lt. Governor Cagle appointments were complete, and Speaker Ralston has two available appointments. Chairman Culpepper has made the governor and speaker aware of the appointments. Chairman Culpepper stated that W. Todd Groce resigned since the last Quarterly Meeting, which gives the Lt. Governor an open position. Chairman Culpepper will be working with Senator Mullis in hopes to get these vacancies filled.

After a 5 minute recess, Chairman Culpepper addressed the election of officers for the fiscal year under New Business. Commissioner Collier made a motion that the slate of officers should remain the same as 2017-18: Chairman John Culpepper; Vice Chairman Kelly Barrow; Secretary James Yancey; and Treasurer Inger Eberhart. Commissioner Seagars seconded the motion that carried.

Chairman Culpepper reported the $25,000 funding check for the State of Georgia had been received and sent to Chief of Staff Barrow to deposit. Chief of Staff Barrow stated it was deposited.

Chairman Culpepper recognized Chief of Staff Barrow to discuss the donation, earmarked for education, of $4,073 from Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield. Chief of Staff Barrow gave the background of Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield and the museum that was operated on the battlefield. After political issues and the closure of the museum, the Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield decided to dissolve the non-profit entity; however, there was a balance remaining in the checking account. Since the Commission had been supportive of all the educational projects the Friends of Nash Farm Battlefield undertook, it was decided by their board to give the remaining funds to the Commission to help reach students in Georgia. Chairman Culpepper stated an amendment to the 2018-19 budget to have a line item for the earmarked $4,073 was needed. Commissioner Carroll made the motion and Commissioner Collier seconded it; motion passed.

Commissioner Eberhart is beginning to work on the End of Year Report and Chairman Culpepper requested that Commissioners share any pictures or notes about anything they were a part of on behalf of the Commission. Commissioner Eberhart stated she would try to have a draft copy for Commissioners to review prior to the next Quarterly Meeting. It was discussed to not mail a copy to every legislator, but to put it in email form and use MailChimp. Hard copies would be mailed by Jan 1, 2019 to certain legislators, including Governor Deal, Lt Governor Cagle, and Speaker Ralston. Deadline for submissions is Oct. 31, 2018 and the final version will be approved at the next Quarterly Meeting.

Chairman Culpepper stated that the website for the Commission still seemed to be an issue. Chief of Staff Barrow stated she has been in contact with Jerry Wells at JerMar and BlueHost. JerMar wants to set up a contract where we pay $75 an hour for a set number of hours monthly. At this point the website is out of date and needs many hours to be dedicated to it. Commissioner Wills stated he would reach out to the IT Department at Kennesaw State University to see if they could recommend a solution. Chairman Culpepper stated he would see if the Department of Economic Development, which is who the Commission falls under, has an IT person that can handle the situation. The discussion was tabled until the next Quarterly Meeting. 

At the end of the meeting, each Commissioner may bring something before the Commission. Commissioner Wills asked for each Commissioner to save the dates for up-coming events at the Kennesaw State University Civil War Center. Commissioner Eberhart shared that Commissioner Wills assistant Sara was wonderful and truly helpful during the Collector’s Showcase. Commissioner Seagars thanked the Commission for being in his home town. Commissioner Carroll said he was currently working with the Village of Andersonville to mark where the Union officers’ stockade was. Chairman Culpepper stated the next phase of District Hill Cemetery had begun with a landscape architect creating a plan of action.

The next Quarterly Meeting was scheduled after a work session for November 10, 2018 at 1:00 in Americus, GA. Commissioners were encouraged to stay until the next day to support the Wirz Service in the Village of Andersonville, a project Commissioner Carroll was intricately involved with. Chairman Culpepper approved of the Commission paying for overnight accommodations for Nov 9 to 10, 2018. Chief of Staff Barrow was asked to set up a block of rooms that were within the parameters created by the State of Georgia. Commissioner Griffiths made the motion to adjourn and Commissioner Wills seconded. Meeting ended at 3:21.

Respectfully submitted by Cassie Barrow, Chief of Staff