CLINTON—Questions about designs were unresolved Monday, and the Anderson County Commission sent a proposal to put the national motto “In God We Trust” on the county courthouse in Clinton back to a committee that has already considered it once.
The Anderson County Operations Committee recommended last week in a 5-3 vote to install black metal signs with white lettering and the national motto above the courthouse’s four entrances.
But the full 16-member commission discussed putting the national motto in granite lettering during a Monday night meeting, among other things.
“Here we are discussing something that we don’t have any idea what it will look like,” Anderson County Commission Chairman Chuck Fritts said.
He suggested the commission, which has already supported the proposal in a 12-4 vote, defer the vote for 30 days and allow more research on design ideas—rather than exchanging suggestions at the commission meeting.
“This way we could come back and have something in front of us,” Fritts said.
“We’re going to do it right,” Anderson County Commissioner Tracy Wandell said.
The commission’s vote to defer the signs back to the Operations Committee passed on a voice vote, with one “no” vote, from Anderson County Commissioner Zach Bates.
In a subsequent 8-7 vote, the commission rejected a proposal by Anderson County Commissioner Myron Iwanksi, who is also former interim county mayor, to consider how to change the signs to reduce financial risks. Iwanski said the process used by commissioners, approving the signs before researching them, has increased the county’s legal liabilities and risks.
“This was done for religious reasons rather than patriotic reasons,” Iwanski said. “It could cost us substantially.”
Hoping to keep the community from being divided, he proposed four signs with different slogans: “In God We Trust”; “From many, one”; “Liberty and Justice for All”; and “Agriculture and Commerce,” the state motto.
Anderson County Commissioner Jerry Creasey said he had a proposal similar to Iwanski’s.
“The action we’ve been taking is dividing this commission,” said Creasey, who stood up as he pleaded for justice, tolerance, and equality. “We’re dividing the county against Oak Ridge. I’m begging you to consider this idea.”
Voting for Iwanski’s proposal were Creasey, Fritts, Iwanski, and Wandell, and commissioners Mark Alderson, Robin Biloski, Whitey Hitchcock, and John Shuey. The motion needed nine votes to pass.
Voting against it were Bates and Anderson County Commissioner Robert McKamey, who has made motions to approve the signs, and commissioners Steve Emert, Rick Meredith, Tim Isbel, Steve Mead, and Jerry White.