Le Flore County may revive plan for Ten Commandments monument

Oklahoman Published: November 12, 2012
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POTEAU (AP) — Le Flore County commissioners are considering reviving a plan to place a Ten Commandments monument on courthouse property, a county official said.

Charlie Horsley said he asked commissioners Nov. 5 to consider the proposal on behalf of former Poteau Mayor Don Barnes, who has pursued the monument for years but has recently had health problems.

Commissioners Lance Smith and Ceb Scott tabled the request because the third commissioner, Derwin Gist, was not at the meeting and Smith wanted to confer with the District Attorney's Office, County Clerk Kelli Ford said.

The request will be brought before the board at a later time, she said.

The county approved Barnes' initial request for the monument in April 2009, but scrapped it when a federal appeals court ruled two months later that a similar monument at neighboring Haskell County's courthouse in Stigler was a government endorsement of religion.

Officials there moved the monument to the lawn of the adjacent Haskell County Museum.

Horsley said supporters of the Le Flore County monument wanted to revive their plan at least partly because they believe that the Haskell County monument has remained on county property without objection.

Haskell County Assessor Roger Ballard told the Tulsa World that records indicate that the Stigler land is owned by American Legion Post 22, not the county.

“Everybody over there has been OK (with the new location) just 80 feet away,” Horsley said. “Everybody's just been hollering to get it on our courthouse.”

The Le Flore County monument's initial approval gained national attention in the wake of a legal battle between the American Civil Liberties Union and Haskell County, which had installed its monument in 2004.