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South Connellsville decides against Ten Commandments monument at honor roll

| Tuesday, Sept. 10, 2013, 6:30 a.m.

Almost a year after the ongoing controversy surrounding the Ten Commandments monument started in Connellsville, South Connellsville council made a decision about an offer to place a monument in the borough.

During Monday's regular meeting, Councilman Clyde Martz said he received communication from the Rev. Ewing Marietta, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church, about placing a Ten Commandments monument at the South Connellsville Honor Roll.

Marietta is also an organizer of Thou Shall Not Move, a group that was formed after a legal battle over a Ten Commandments monument at Connellsville Junior High School. The monument has been at the school for more than 50 years.

In 2012, an anonymous student and parent, along with the Freedom From Religion Foundation, filed a lawsuit, which seeks the removal of the monument from school district property. The district is fighting its removal.

Thou Shall Not Move has raised money to help fight the legal battle and to place monuments in front of different locations in the area.

South Connellsville had to vote on placing a monument at the honor roll, a borough-owned property.

“We were advised by our solicitor to definitely not do that,” Martz said, adding the advice came from the fact that the issue has not been resolved with the school district in their ongoing legal battle and it would mostly likely end with a lawsuit against the borough. “That will put the borough in risk that we don't need at this time.”

Council unanimously voted against placing the monument at the honor roll. Council President Mark Ward did not attend Monday's meeting.

“I don't want to see them put one up there and then have it boarded up,” Martz said.

Councilman Guy Napolillo said the whole situation was “a sad state of affairs.”

However, council asked Don Ringer, president of South Connellsville Volunteer Fire Department, if it would consider having a Ten Commandments monument in front of the fire hall, since the monument would be seen by more people at that location.

Ringer said he was never approached by anyone about placing a monument there, but it would be considered.

In other business:

• Resident and South Connellsville VFD Chief Steve Helms again approached council about the alley behind his house along Painter Street where he said vehicles drive through at speeds between 45 to 50 mph.

He said his four children are getting older and if they would happen to be playing outside and a ball goes out onto that alley and they go out there, they wouldn't stand a chance.

Martz said they will look into placing both speed bumps and a stop sign in the alley.

• Another resident had concerns about a quad speeding through an alley behind First Street and that has been going up and down the alley four nights in a row, including before Monday's meeting.

• Napolillo reminded residents with flood damage that Sept. 16 is the last day to apply for a disaster loan through the Small Business Administration. FEMA rejected the borough's request for funds after heavy rains caused significant damage to residents in July. Those interested may call 800-659-2955, email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov or visit the website at www.sba.gov

• Council announced a car show on Oct. 12; tar and chipping to start on either Friday or Monday; fall cleanup on Oct. 9; and Community Yard Sale on Oct. 5.

Mark Hofmann is a staff writer with Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-626-3539 or mhofmann@tribweb.com.

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