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New look, prayer for Ortonville Village council


'Prayer has been done for the last 200 years at various levels of government.'



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November 24, 2010 - Ortonville- For at least the past six years, the village council hasn't had a prayer.

That changed at the Nov. 22 meeting.

Following the swearing-in of Council President Wayne Wills and Council Members Debbie Baker, Tom Peters, Coleen Skornicka and Liz Waters, all elected in November, the council and audience members said the Pledge of Allegiance.

Wills then announced there would be an invocation. He noted it had not been done in years and he was unsure why, but it was his personal request. He added that all present had already heard "under God" during the swearing-in and the pledge and the council could discuss it after if there were any objections. During the short prayer, Wills said there were tough times ahead and asked for guidance.

"I don't know when the council stopped doing the invocation, but it was approved to start doing the invocation in 1997," he said on Tuesday. "Local meetings can get rather cantankerous and if people have hard feelings, prayer for a moment of quiet reflection helps people calm down."

Wills cited an article, 'Prayer approved by village council,' published in the Dec. 1, 1997 edition of The Citizen. The story reported that the council approved 5-2 to add an invocation to the beginning of its meetings. Then council members Larry Hayden and Mary Kassuba voted no. Hayden was quoted as saying the move was unconstitutional, while Kassuba said at the time that councilmembers were voted in to make sure the village money was spent correctly, not to give religious prayers. When Wills was asked whether he was concerned about the separation of church and state, he replied, "As I stated (at the meeting), when we swore in myself and the councilmembers and said the pledge, God was mentioned three times. Prayer has been done for the last 200 years at various levels of government."

Following the prayer, the council continued with business as usual, which included presenting outgoing councilmembers Harold Batten, Kay Green, Melanie Nivelt and Ken Quisenberry with plaques for their years of service to the community.

"Leadership and volunteerism are sorely lacking in America," Wills said in recognizing the former councilmembers. "It's wonderful when people step up to the plate, especially for a number of years. My hat is off to them."

He noted the previous council took care of some "nasty" issues, including problems with former Department of Public Works personnel and praised the current DPW crew, led by Bob Hauxwell.

The council will have a special study session at 6 p.m., Dec. 6, at the village offices, 476 Mill St. at which will serve as an orientation for new members, and at which Wills said a number of issues may be discussed, including the budgetary process, sharing services with the township, the shared cable agreement and the future of the Village Skate Park.

Susan covers Brandon Township and Ortonville
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