VANCOUVER, Wash. -- The Clark County Historic Preservation Commission voted on Tuesday to remove a highway marker with Confederate ties from the county’s heritage register.
The Jefferson Davis National Highway Marker is flanked by a confederate flag and displayed at Jefferson Davis Park on private land, near Interstate 5 in Ridgefield.
The commission’s unanimous vote came after hours of heated testimony at a public hearing scheduled by the commission. The hearing was in response to numerous complaints about the marker, in the wake of violence in Charlottesville, Va.
“I'm very glad about the council's decision,” said Danielle Jokela, who protested the marker’s heritage designation. “I think that it sends a message to our community that these are not Clark County's values.”
The commission’s decision will not have any physical impact on Jefferson Davis Park or the marker, which will stay where they are. Only the marker’s designation on the heritage register will be removed.
The marker had been on the Clark County Heritage Register since 2002, when it was nominated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. At the time, the marker was kept in the Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver. After review, the monument was allowed to stay on the heritage register in 2007, when it was relocated to Jefferson Davis Park.
Those who support the monument said removing its heritage designation wouldn’t change it in their eyes.
“They're going to do what they're going to do, it won't matter to the park,” said Jay Willis, with Sons of Confederate Veterans Pacific NW Division. “It will remain there because [the county] created this mess. Those markers were in obscure locations along the old highway when they forced them to be moved and put them in a museum,” said Willis. “Then when they wouldn't take them in the museum, they kicked them out and they paid to put them in the park.”
Following the vote, members of the Historic Perseveration Commission said the monument should have never been allowed on the heritage register because it didn’t meet the criteria. They said they were glad to be able to correct their mistake.