Cedar City councilman pushing to keep ‘Redmen’ emblem on city’s water tank

Water tank with "Redmen" emblem painted on it, atop Leigh Hill, as seen from adjacent Ridge Road, Cedar City, Utah, May 24, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Although Cedar High School is now beginning to shift its moniker from “Redmen” to “Reds,” a member of the Cedar City Council wants to ensure that at least one highly visible “Redmen” sign remains intact.

City Councilman Paul Cozzens, during a discussion at last week’s council meeting, referred to the large water tank that sits atop Leigh Hill, just west of Ridge Road. The side of the tank is painted with the word “Redmen” in all capital letters, atop a large profile of a Native American wearing a headdress.

Noting that the city owns the tank and the land it sits on, Cozzens said he wants to ensure that the emblem painted on the tank stays the way it is.

The name “Redmen” has been associated with Cedar High since at least 1942, the year of the school’s very first graduating class.

“This has been a proud tradition in our community for 77 years,” Cozzens told Cedar City News. “And that artwork, that symbol, has been on that tank for nearly 50 years. I simply want it to stay, to honor the past and as a remembrance of a proud tradition.”

Graduation program for the Cedar High School Class of 2019, designed by senior MaKaty Thorley, Cedar City, Utah, May 22, 2019 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

To that end, Cozzens said he has requested the city attorney draft a resolution that he hopes will allow the image painted on the tank to be protected.

“It wasn’t on the agenda, but I requested that the city attorney draft a resolution to declare the water tank a historical site,” Cozzens said. “It’ll be real simple, just to declare it as historical site and that it’s to be preserved, really out of respect for the nearly 50 years that it’s been there.”

The matter is expected to be on the agenda for the council’s June 5 work meeting, after which it may come up for a vote at the June 12 regular meeting, Cozzens said.

Fellow Cedar City council member Scott Phillips, who also is a member of the city’s Historical Preservation Commission, told Cedar City News in a separate interview that what Cozzens is proposing does not follow the typical pattern of a historical designation.

“The tower clearly needs some repair, but I don’t see how a water tower, no matter what might written or painted on it, could be considered a historical structure,” Phillips said, adding, “Historical structures can have repair and repainting done to them, but they must represent the original intent of the structure.”

However, Cozzens said Tuesday night he believed a resolution could be drafted that specifies it is the image on the tank that should be protected.

“It’s not the tank; it’s what’s painted on it,” Cozzens said Tuesday night. “I want the resolution to state that it’s a historical site and that that particular painting stays.”

Shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday, Cozzens emailed Cedar City News a copy of a newly drafted proposed resolution, which had been created by City Attorney Tyler Romeril. Although the document’s language steers clear of making any actual historical designations, it does proclaim:

The City’s Leigh Hill water tank located on top of Leigh Hill shall from this day forth be designated as a monument to bear the colors and Redmen symbol of Cedar High School.

The document also states that there will be a period of public comment allotted during the June 5 meeting, which starts at 5:30 p.m. Click here to read the full document, which is a preliminary draft.

Cozzens is adamant that Cedar High’s mascot should not have been changed in the first place.

“The political correctness movement in America is getting out of hand,” he said.

The contentious issue has divided the community since last fall, when the Iron County School District Board of Education appointed a 24-member committee to study the issue.

Following a series of public meetings, the mascot committee, comprised of students, staff, parents, alumni, tribal leaders and other members of the community, recommended by a secret ballot vote of 17-7 that the name “Redmen” be changed.

Shortly thereafter, in February, the five-member school board voted 3-2 to “respectfully retire” the Redmen moniker effective at the end of the 2018-19 school year, and a transition team was chosen to help select a replacement name.

On April 11, the transition team announced that the school’s new mascot name, chosen by a vote of the student body, would simply be the Reds, after the shade of maroon that has long been one of Cedar High’s official school colors, along with gold.

An official logo of Arkansas State University, home of the Red Wolves, for illustration purposes. Image courtesy of Arkansas State University, St. George News / Cedar City News

Another student vote was conducted to decide on an animal that would embody the name “Reds,” with wolves, lions and oxen being the three final choices.

“After considering many worthy options, the school’s student body voted for the design element of a ‘Wolf,’” stated a May 24 update from the transition team.

The wolf option reportedly garnered approximately half of the student votes, with the remaining votes split fairly evenly between oxen and lions, according to school officials.

The next steps for Cedar High will be to consider various wolf designs and styles that are “consistent with the school’s identify and brand physique of strength, courage, honor, excellence and unity,” the transition team’s announcement added.

School officials have indicated the new name and logo will be phased in gradually, but said that students can expect to start seeing some changes when they return to school in August.

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Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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