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'Council of Understanding' Assembled to Discuss Future of Confederate Statue in Gaston County

GASTONIA, N.C. – With one selection by each member of the Gaston County Board of Commissioners and five remaining members selected by Chairman Tracy Philbeck and Commissioner Tom Keigher, the 12 members of the Council of Understanding are now set.

The Council, which Keigher will chair, will meet to discuss the future of the confederate statue outside the Gaston County Courthouse. The statue was gifted to the County in 1912 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and was moved from the old county courthouse to its current location in front of the current county courthouse in 1998.

The council will meet until it has reached a decision to recommend to the Board of Commissioners for action.

The council’s first meeting is set for Tuesday, July 7 from 12 to 1:30 p.m. They will follow with a second meeting on Thursday, July 9, at the same time. The meetings will take place inside the Harley B. Gaston Public Forum at the Gaston County Courthouse, 325 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way, in Gastonia. They will be livestreamed on the County’s website,, and will also be available on the county’s government channel – available to Spectrum and AT&T U-Verse subscribers.

There will be limited public seating available for these meetings. Those wishing to attend will undergo temperature screenings and a health questionnaire. Capacity in the forum will be limited to allow for social distancing and attendees will be asked to wear face coverings.

The council is made up of two groups of six individuals – one group that supports the relocation of the monument and the other which wants to have it remain in front of the courthouse. Those individuals are: Bruce Cloninger, Bill Starnes, D’Andre Nixon, Rev. Tom Gillespie, Jane Dye, Rev. Dickie Spargo, Dr. Ed Smith, Moises Miranda, Joe Will, Eric Riley, Cheryl Comer and James Muhammad.