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State Panel Gives Initial Approval to New Ten Commandments Monument

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Instead of six orange cones surrounding what's left of the Ten Commandments monument at the state capitol, four concrete posts could stand in their place to protect its replacement.

The security measure, along with repairs to the monument's base, received initial approval from a subcommittee of the Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission Tuesday.

A driver ran over the original monument in June, less than 24 hours after crews installed it.

Six months later, an exact replica is complete, but before it can resume its place on capitol grounds, the full commission has to approve the proposed changes.

"We're trying to protect it from vehicles at this point," said Gary Clements, an architect at Clements and Associates in North Little Rock. 

Clements proposed guarding the monument with four concrete posts, which he calls a minimal cost at no more than $400 each.

However, his company also has to rebuild the base, which Clements said would cost several thousand dollars.

"The car caused cracks to go through it," he said.

Taxpayers won't foot the bill though. Just like the original monument, private donations to the American History and Heritage Foundation will fund the replacement, repairs and security.

"We had a lot of people step up, really from all over the country, and said they wanted to help out with those particular measures," said St. Sen. Jason Rapert, R-Conway. 

Sen. Rapert, who led the push to bring the monument to the capitol, could not give an exact price tag but said the foundation has raised all of the money needed.

"Hopefully now, we won't have to deal with someone that is unstable who would carry out an act of violence like what happened with the monument originally," Rapert said. 

If approved, the barriers still won't keep people out, but Clements said that's kind of the point.

"We never anticipated putting a heavy fence or anything around it because it's just so inappropriate," he said. "It still needs to be accessible to the people. They also have security here from police. There's plenty of cameras pointing to it as well."

A public comment hearing on the proposed changes will be held Thursday before they go before the full commission next week.

Chris Powell, the spokesperson for the Arkansas Secretary of State, doesn't anticipate any issues.

Clements said his crew would begin construction as soon as the changes receive approval. 

Sen. Rapert is confident nothing will stand in the monument's way, hoping to see it standing tall once again by the first of the new year. 

"You can bring in the devil himself," he said. "It's not going to make a difference." 

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