The Grand Traverse County Board of Commissioners approved two controversial policies today during a meeting that lasted seven hours.
For one, the board decided to allow prayers at their regular meetings. At the start of each meeting, county commissioners will now open the floor for anyone in the room, of any denomination, to say an invocation.
They used to have a similar policy but it was removed after public outcry. Today’s change once again drew a lot of controversy. There were over a dozen speakers during the public comment section.
Stan Verheul was one of the many people who complained about the policy.
“Please do not increase the dissonance within congregations, temples, everything else. Please don’t do this,” Verheul said.
Other people said the rule change conflicts with the separation between church and state.
But there were some who were in favor of the policy. One woman said that other people are allowed to practice their religious beliefs at county meetings. Republican Commissioner Gordie LaPointe said he got a few positive emails about the proposal.
The County Board of Commissioners also reversed an appointment to the Traverse Area District Library. Susan Odgers was appointed by the commission last year. Former Commissioner - and Odgers’ husband - Tom Mair was the deciding vote. Some Commissioners objected to the fact that he didn’t recuse himself.
Ultimately, the commission symbolically nullified the original appointment, only to reappoint Odgers. They said she should not be penalized for missteps by the commission in the selection process.