McCracken County Judge-Executive Craig Clymer continues to make progress in his push to put a symbol of racial unity on a water tower along Interstate 24, as Paducah Mayor Brandi Harless approved a design Friday.
Proposed to the Paducah Water Works board — a utility controlled by the city — on April 28, Clymer’s idea is to place this symbol across the highway from Arant Confederate Park, where a Confederate flag flies visible from the highway.
“I think it’s real good. I preferred the earlier design … there were some folks who believed that, that was a violation of flag protocol,” Clymer told the Sun Monday. “So I changed the design to take the hands out from in front of the flag and I’m happy with it. It gets the message across that needs to be delivered.”
J.W. Cleary, president of the Paducah-McCracken County NAACP chapter, is ultimately happy with the design, as well.
“I don’t see a thing in the world wrong with it. I was willing to take the attitude that whatever we could get I would be OK with it,” Cleary said. “I wish that we didn’t even have to go through this part, but at least this will help offset the situation.”
Harless would have liked to have more time and community input put into the final design, but is understanding of the judge-executive’s desire to get the project done in the near future.
“I’m glad we are willing to send a signal to the world that we have every intention to be a unified community,” she told the Sun. “I just want to make sure we are doing the hard work to ensure we have unity and equality here locally. There are still far too few black-owned businesses, too few key leadership positions held by people of color, and much more.
“Let this symbol on the water tower be our willingness as a community to dig in to these issues and begin to solve them together.”
The next step for Clymer is to have the project — and design — formally approved by the Paducah City Commission and the PWW board.
Once those things happen, Clymer will be able to figure out a budget for the initiative, which he hopes to fund through community donations. The county treasurer created a bank account for these donations last week and over $2,000 has been collected as of Monday.
“I think the money’s going to come in without any problems. I’ve gotten several calls from people that are well known in the community who are going to contribute a substantial amount of money,” the judge-executive said. “I’m confident we’ll do this without any taxpayer money being put into it.”
Cleary thinks that this collaboration is a great thing for our area and gives him some hope for the future.
“I’ve got to give credit to the city and county governments coming together like this. In the long run, I think this is going to help the entire community,” he added. “We’ve got enough negative stuff going on this world, country and city, so if we can come up with something positive I just think it’s going in the right direction.”