Bloomfield Council approves new Bill of Rights monument for city hall lawn
BLOOMFIELD — A fourth monument to be unveiled Independence Day morning on the front lawn at City Hall was approved by city council on Tuesday.
The sterling blue granite monument — two tablets eight feet tall on a concrete foundation — will be chiseled with the 12 articles of the Bill of Rights on one side, and the pledge of allegiance with a depiction of the Liberty Bell on the other.
The monument will be installed by former city councilor Kevin Mauzy. Mauzy is the founder of the Four Corners Historical Monument Project, a group of citizens invested in the promotion of American history.
His group has previously installed three monuments at City Hall — tributes to The Declaration of Independence, President Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address," and The Ten Commandments.
In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed a lawsuit on behalf of two residents seeking to remove the granite Ten Commandments monument claiming the religious display was unconstitutional on city property. A final ruling by Judge James Parker of the U.S. District Court of New Mexico is expected sometime this year.
Mauzy declined to address the lawsuit except to say that he is hopeful his group will prevail and the monument will remain in place. He also chose not to name any of the members of the group but said it is an ad-hoc organization with plans to install other monuments at city hall in the future.
The next monument Mauzy has in the planning stages is a twin tribute to the Navajo code talkers and the Bataan death march.
Mauzy said he had hoped to have installed that monument and invite code talker Chester Nez to the unveiling. Nez's death this month was disappointing news to Mauzy, but he vowed on Monday to go ahead with plans for the monument anyway.
Mauzy said the group pays for the monuments through private donations and follows the city's regulations on monument installation.
According to the group's Facebook page, Mauzy has raised almost half of the $14,000 needed to pay for the monument.
"I think it's wonderful. Thank you," Councilor Elwin Roark told Mauzy at the meeting before calling for a motion to approve the monument. It passed unanimously.
In April, Mauzy and his adult son, Josh, planted two chanticleer pear trees on the lawn that will bookend the Bill of Rights monument.
"There's symbolism with the trees," Mauzy said. "They're called the 'Carol trees' after the former mayor, Carol Halvorson. Several years ago her kids had donated a tree that was planted on the front lawn but did not survive. We took it out in 2011 when we put the Declaration of Independence monument in. (Halvorson's) family paid for the two new trees."
The monument project has been well-received in Bloomfield, Mauzy said.
"The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. They like it and they're proud of them. From a visitor to city hall to our students, to take an interest and read those documents is a way to promote the significance of them," Mauzy said. "In other areas of the country these monuments add quite a tourist attraction and have gotten a fair amount of notoriety."
Mauzy first imagined the monument lawn when he was running for city council and had made beautification one of his platforms. But overall, he said it's his desire to promote American history and ensure it is preserved for future generations.
"More and more, if (they're) not read, the kids don't learn it and then we're losing these documents," Mauzy said.