As a result of recent questions regarding a mysterious highway marker honoring former Confederate president Jefferson Davis, the Elgin City Council discussed the possibility of deciding whether or not to remove it in the future.
During public comment at last Tuesday’s regular meeting, citizen Randy Krapf brought information to the council about the highway marker, located on the median at the intersection of Taylor Road and Main Street, which was recently exposed by the addition of sidewalks and the removal of bushes. Krapf, who said he often walks his dog around Elgin, first noticed the marker in July while walking to Elgin Memorial Park. The marker appears to have been erected in 1937 to designate a piece of the Jefferson Davis Highway, a planned roadway stretching from Virginia to California that was sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the early 20th century.
Krapf said he was surprised to see the marker because he had never heard of it, despite living in Elgin for the past several years, and other people he talked to seemed to not know or remember anything about it. Krapf spoke to the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), which has authority over Taylor Road; TxDOT told him they did not have any involvement with or record of the marker, and they would not object to a local government removing the marker.
Krapf’s research also found no connection between Elgin and Jefferson Davis; Elgin was founded in 1872, years after the Civil War, and no evidence was found of Jefferson Davis visiting the area.
Krapf asked the council to request that TxDOT remove the marker.
“I would like to ask city leaders if this marker, honoring the former Confederate president, erected by the Daughters of the Confederacy in the Jim Crow era, is the best representation of our city today, as made newly visible on our Main Street, on our parade route, and only blocks from one of our largest parks, hosting festivals for locals, visitors and new residents alike,” he said.
Mayor Chris Cannon said the council was also surprised when they were made aware of the marker, and that no one else he talked to had any knowledge about it either. He added that TxDOT gave the city much of the same information they gave Krapf, but that was all the council would be able to discuss about it that evening since it was not on the agenda.
Later during the meeting during his report to the council, city manager Thomas Mattis shared some more information the city received from TxDOT regarding the marker. He said despite being in their jurisdiction, TxDOT does not own the marker, so they’re not responsible for it; however, TxDOT could approve the city to enter their right-of-way to remove it.
Mattis said he has received written authorization from TxDOT to remove the highway marker if the city wishes to do so. However, the council could not vote on any action or provide any direction at the time during last week’s meeting.
Updates coming soon regarding annexed area
Mattis offered a quick update regarding the dis-annexation of land southeast of town.
In June, the council voted to dis-annex part of an area that was annexed to the city in December 2015.
Mattis said city staff are continuing to work on the issue, but Elgin’s situation is a unique one. As a result, it’s taking longer than they thought to bring an update back to council. He added they should have more information within the next 30 to 60 days.
Mattis also said the issue should be resolved by the end of the year, unless something unplanned occurs, so that the property owners who are being dis-annexed won’t be responsible for city taxes next year.
New trash can ordinance proposed, discussed
The council discussed a possible amendment to the city ordinance regarding placement of trash bins at certain times, a proposal brought to the council by council member Juan Gonzalez.
The current ordinance does not specify if trash bins on residential properties are required to bring their bins back from the street after the trash is collected within a particular timeframe.
The proposed amendment up for discussion would require residents to place their trash carts and containers at the curb by 7 a.m. on the day established for trash collection, but no earlier than 7 a.m. on the day before trash collection. The trash bins would then have to be removed no later than 7 p.m. on the day after trash collection and would have to be stored behind the front building wall of the residential structure. Mattis said such rules are standard among cities.
Gonzalez shared some photographs showing examples of trash bins left out on the curb around town, some of which he said are left out all week.
“I think it would help our city in appearance if we had this ordinance,” he said.
The agenda item was for discussion only; the council did not take any action regarding this ordinance during last week’s meeting.