NEWBERRY — Newberry City Council has passed a first reading of an ordinance that outlines a formal invocation policy.
City Manger Matt DeWitt said the ordinance gives a consistent pattern of how council presents the prayer at meetings. The ordinance would also designate one council member as the chaplin, and if that person is absent, another member of council can give the invocation.
“The Supreme Court has been looking at prayer in schools and meetings over the years, so it has been recommended by the Municipal Association that we have a prayer policy, which is pretty much what we have now,” Mayor Foster Senn said.
DeWitt added that the policy states how the chaplin will go about the prayer, and sets a type of guideline for them.
The proposed policy establishes that council will allow for a public invocation or prayer to be offered before its regularly called meetings for the benefit of the Council. It will be listed on the agenda for regularly called and special meetings of the vouncil.
Anyone in attendance at the meeting will be required to participate (i.e., asked to stand, bow his/her head, or otherwise) in any invocation or prayer that is offered. The invocation shall be voluntarily delivered by a member of council who voluntarily agrees to serve in the capacity as chaplin and is elected by Newberry City Council.
Immediately following the call to order, which officially begins the council meeting and the business of the public, the presiding officer will introduce the chaplain and ask him or her to perform the invocation for the Council.
The policy is not intended to affiliate Council with, nor express Council’s preference for or against any faith or religious denomination. Rather, the invocation offered at the beginning of meetings of Newberry City Council is a voluntary offering by a member of Council to and for the benefit of the Council.
In the event that the council member elected to offer invocations is unable to attend a Council meeting for whatever reason, the presiding officer shall ask another member of council to voluntarily render the invocation.
Councilman Lemont Glasgow was selected to serve as chaplin. First reading passed after Councilman Edwin Wicker made a motion and Councilman Zebbie Goudelock seconded.
In other business, the Newberry Arts Program has been selected as the recipient of the 2016 Programming Excellence Award for populations under 30,000. The award was originally presented on Sept. 12 by the South Carolina Recreation and Parks Association (SCRPA) Awards Committee at their State Conference awards luncheon.
Marquerite Palmer, arts program coordinator, and Scott Sawyer, director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for the city, accepted the award for the program.
“In 2013, when Ms. Palmer was hired as a senior programmer for older adults for the PRT department, she and Scott continued talking about what would an arts program look like. Fast forward to 2014, there was no budget, no staff, no building, nothing,” said Jim Headley, executive director of SCRPA. “In a short two years, not only did the program go from being in the red, where it was a line item and costing citizens money. In 2015-16 we were actually shown the increase in expenditures was up to $41,000, but the increase in revenue to the city was $55,000. It was actually in the black, a very good thing to do.”
Headley added that it is important for a city to have a vibrant arts community.
Some of the features of the Newberry Arts Center includes separate art and pottery center and outdoor space for classes and events. The center has also attracted a nationally renowned watercolor artist, an artist-in-residence and a world renowned clay artist as a presenter and advisor from the SC Clay Conference, which was established through the program from scratch.
• Kevin Longshore was recognized for working with the Utility Department for 25 years. Britt Worthy was recognized for working with the Public Works Department for the last five years.Nickolas Gilmore was recognized for working with the Utility Department for the last 15 years. Ashley Cutshall was recognized for working with the Utility Department for the last 15 years.
• A public hearing and a first reading was passed on an ordinance that will rezone the City of Newberry Parks to remove split zoning of some parks to make all parks consistent with Open Space Zoning.
• A pubic hearing and a first reading was passed on an ordinance that would rezone 3115 College Street from General Commercial to Neighborhood Commercial.
• A first reading was approved for a lease/purchase agreement for an automated leaf machine. The machine will be purchased from Old Dominion Brush Company for $168,000. The purchase will be financed through Branch Banking and Trust with the note not exceed a three year period.
• Goudelock was selected as mayor pro tem.
• Council approved the regular council meetings and council work sessions for 2017 (see breakout box).
Reach Andrew Wigger at 803-276-0625 ext. 1867 or on Twitter @ TheNBOnews.