Our national motto, “In God We Trust,” will not be prominently displayed in the Ottawa County Courthouse.
The Ottawa County Commissioners Monday, after some discussion, agreed to take no action on the resolution.
The proposed resolution came in a request from the law offices of Dee Wampler Joseph Passanise in Springfield, Mo. Wampler, in a letter to the commission in March, said hundreds of cities (200 at last count) across the United States are doing so.
“Within the last several weeks, Branson, Marshfield and Buffalo became the first Missouri cities to unanimously approve of displaying our nation motto,” he said.
All three members of the commission said they were in favor of the proposal, but wanted some advice from their legal staff. Ottawa County Assistant District Attorney Ben Loring told the commission in March that by placing “In God We Trust” in the courthouse it might be opening the county up for litigation costs.
Commission John Clarke said, as instructed at the last meeting, he called the Association of County Commissioners of Oklahoma to get its recommendation.
He said ACCO is discouraging such proposals because a county case, where the Ten Commandants were displayed on its courthouse grounds. “While the county court ruled for the county, the State Supreme Court ruled against the county, and the US Supreme Court refused to hear the case. As a result, the county had to pay the challengers’ attorneys’ fees,” Clarke said.
Commissioner Russell Earls said, “Let’s pick our fights. This is not one I want to pursue.”
Clarke said, “With the information from ACCO, this is not in the county’s best interest to pursue it. It is sad it’s not something we can do and not feel the repercussions down the road.”
Commissioner Gary Wyrick said, “I’d like to have it. However, I don’t want to spend our money on it.”
The three commissioners then agreed to take no action on the resolution.
In other action, the commissioners:
• Approved the contract documents for the Rural Economic Action Plan Fund grant on behalf of Fairland for $47,000 to bring the water, sewer, gas and electricity to Hughes Lumber’s proposed new site in the Fairland Industrial Park.