January 5, 2011 by wcobserver
West Fork- There was something new at the city council meeting Tuesday, Dec. 14. Although it was not brought up during the meeting or any meeting prior, it was clearly visible.
The nation’s motto, “In God We Trust,” was painted on the meeting chamber wall Nov. 16, one week after November’s city council meeting. The artist, Jason Jones, was hired at the request of Mayor Jan Throgmorton. Jones painted the motto in five-inch black block letters and charged the city $200 for the work, which took four hours, according to his invoice. Business Manager Michael “Butch” Bartholomew approved the payment.
City Clerk Susan Cooney said she noticed documents pertaining to the sign had been placed on the table in front of the council members’ seats when she arrived 30 minutes prior to the meeting. Cooney said the document was not at her table and had not been included in the packets she gives to the city council members and the media prior to a meeting.
“I was surprised,” Cooney said, “because I know other towns are passing a resolution.”
Cooney said she was shocked and disappointed that it didn’t come up in the council meeting.
“I know it would have passed,” she said.
Council member Misty Caudle said she would have preferred to see the painting done by a local artist or by a student.
“But I was never asked for my opinion, or my approval,” she said.
Caudle said she doesn’t feel like it was done for the community, but “more for spite,” she said.
According to Mayor Jan Throgmorton, a document explaining the history of the nation’s motto was distributed to council members, the city attorney and the city business manager.
“It’s just the history in a nutshell, “ she said.
The Washington County Observer obtained a copy of the document and found it came from a non-profit group, In God We Trust – America, Inc., promoting cities to adopt this resolution. The group, based in California, was founded by Bakersfield, Cal. city council member Jacquie Sullivan in 2004 for the purpose of spreading the mission of patriotism across America, according the website.
The branch in Arkansas has a website, In God We Trust-Arkansas.org., which includes information about how to start the process of passing the resolution as well as historically relevant events relating to the motto. The mission of the group, according to the site, is “to promote patriotism – by encouraging elected officials to display our national motto, ‘In God We Trust’ in Every City Hall in America.” There is a video feed provided by OmniVids2, which states on its site, “this channel features videos relating to Christianity and bible prophecy.”
Throgmorton said a resolution does not have to be passed by the council and no approval is needed for the money.
“I just decided to do it,” she said. “Maybe if it was the Ten Commandments, we might have voted on it.”
Mayor-elect Frances Hime said although a resolution isn’t required, it is a matter of courtesy.
“A resolution demonstrates that it was a group decision,” she said.
Council member John Foster said he thinks the decision should have come before the council.
“I think anything that is a potentially controversial issue should be discussed,” he said.
Council member Anita Lowry said she was surprised to see the motto when she arrived for the meeting.
“I think we should have a discussion over the reasoning for what inspired it,” she said. “I’m a religious person but I know I have to separate that from my job on the city council.”
Council member Joan Wright said she didn’t notice it but said she would have voted for it.
Council member Ed Stout said he preferred not to comment but he did notice the newly painted motto on the wall when he arrived.
“I saw it there but didn’t pay much attention,” Stout said.
Charlie Rosetti said he thinks it is great to have that motto there.
“It’s the nation’s motto but I understand there are some who are opposed to that,” Rosetti said. “I have no problem with it because I know where I stand.”
Rosetti said he might consider passing a resolution at the next meeting.
“I’m not the only council member involved in this,” he said.
According to the In God We Trust website, a resolution has passed, as of Dec. 15, in 156 cities across America – 69 in Arkansas, 72 in California, one each in Michigan and Minnesota, three in Oklahoma and two in Texas. Benton County cities Lowell and Little Flock passed the resolution in September and October of this year. Arkansas has more than 500 municipalities according to the Arkansas Municipal League website. West Fork won’t be listed as no resolution was passed.