All members of the City Council in 2003 are no longer in office but were invited, along with former mayor Cecil Pruett, by several sitting council members for the brief ceremony at the monument, which was completed in May and sits at the northern edge of downtown Canton.
Councilman John Beresford addressed the former city officials who were able to attend the ceremony and thanked them for their vision.
“Council does a lot of work, but sometimes it takes (time) as the wheels of government move slowly,” Beresford said. “This project started in 2003 by this council with foresight of seeing something that would be an excellent (thing) for people coming into our city to see.”
The City Council also had a plaque installed on the monument listing the names of the former mayor and council members responsible for its construction.
Pruett expressed his gratitude to Beresford and the other sitting council members in attendance, which included Jack Goodwin, Hooky Huffman and Bob Rush.
“We also want to thank the council members who are here today for their consideration and courage to do this,” Pruett said. “Thank you men for what y’all are doing, and thank you for your commitment to this city and the differences you’re making.”
Beresford said the Waleska Street monument was paid for with 80 percent federal funding and 20 percent from the city, but due to many setbacks in the project, construction only started around the beginning of 2013.
After the ceremony Tuesday, Pruett remarked on seeing the monument finally finished so many years after approval.
“To see the fruition and the reality happen, it’s very rewarding,” the former mayor said. “This is a great, great entrance to the city. It makes a tremendous statement when people come to downtown Canton, and we all need to remember that this is our old downtown, where it all started.”
Former Councilman Lester Cantrell said he was also glad to see the project done.
“It feels good,” he said. “It makes us feel that our time was not in vain.”