Mayor Carl Cooper announced on Wednesday, Jan. 19, that the meeting would begin with a prayer, noting that such a traditional opening of local government meetings was not a recent practice of the Chapel Hill Board of Mayor and Aldermen.
"Folks," Cooper explained, "we need it, plus the pledge... I might call on others" to pray and/or lead the pledge.
Town Administrator Mike Hatten responded to Cooper's request that night and he asked the Lord for "wisdom... the safety of our troops and our community."
Alderman Tom Lawrence commended Cooper for having a prayer, and business was conducted thereafter for the town of some 1,000 in north Marshall County.
Subsequently, Hatten explained that, "At one time they used to do it... Ever since I've been here, we haven't done it."
He chuckled while saying perhaps he was the reason, but quickly deferred to Town Recorder Dawn Lovins: "She's been here longer than I...
"But we got to talking with Mayor Cooper and he took the bull by the horns and decided to do it.
"If I'm not mistaken, they may have had one of the pastors from town to come in and lead the prayer," Hatten said, signaling for Lovins' assistance. "I'm sure the mayor could call on one of them, but for now, I'm sure we'll just do it ourselves."
Lovins started working at Town Hall in August of 2001, "and we did then" have a prayer at the start of the meeting. "I was to call different churches in the town to have someone in, and then it got hard to get someone and so we just quit doing it.
"It wasn't anyone's fault," she said. "It was just hard to do it... Somebody forgot, or they didn't come.
"Now that Mayor Cooper is restarting it, he's asking for members of the board or those who are there to volunteer," Lovins said. "It's something that needs to be done."
More than four years ago when Cooper opened a board meeting in the Police and Fire departments' building, he said he'd not led a town meeting, but would do his best and conduct it as he would a Sunday school class.