Lenoir City Council meetings are usually attended by more employees then concerned citizens however, this was not the case at Monday's Council meeting. The word spread like wildfire about pending action by Council regarding Lenoir City's Law Enforcement Patch. The press and public responded with a packed standing room only.

Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens added an item, number six (6) to the March 26th meeting agenda; Consideration authorizing the City Attorney to send a letter to the Freedom from Religion Foundation. Agenda item six (6) would take about six minutes from beginning to end for discussion and vote.


Mayor Aikens explained how a copy of the letter from City attorney James K. Scott had been distributed to the press, prior to the commencement of the Council meeting. He requested Council to authorize sending a letter to "those folks."  Click to see Letter pdf

Lenoir City Council had been made aware of two letters that were sent to Mayor Aikens from the Freedom of Religion Foundation. According to Mayor Aikens, the Foundation had asked that the word "Religion" be removed from the Lenoir City Police patch.

"I've had several discussions with the Chief of Police (White) and Mr. Hurst (City Administrator), and the city attorney about this issue. Mayor Aikens felt like the City Police Department was "not endorsing religion in any way." "Matter of fact we're protecting religion just like we do the 8,000 plus citizens of this City" It would be my recommendation that the attorney send this letter and that we put that "Ball back in their court" added Mayor Aikens.  "So moved, Mayor" said Councilman Bobby Johnson Sr. who also serves on the Lenoir City Board of Education.  Second said Councilman Mike Heline.

Councilman Buddy Hines spoke about reading the letter. (Note: Councilman Hines daughter (Rosemary Hines-Quillen) is the Chair of the Lenoir City School Board. The Lenoir City Board of Education ceased praying at the beginning of this month's meeting however, Chair Rosemary Hines-Quillen, and board member Mitch Ledbetter were absent.)  

Mayor Aikens asked Recorder Jim Wilburn to read the letter but then changed his mind and asked City Attorney Scott to read the letter aloud. As Scott finished reading the letter, he was met with a thunder of applause from the standing room crowd.

Mayor Aikens asked if anyone in the audience wanted to speak about the letter. A person in the audience asked what would happen after the letter was sent. Mayor Aikens replied "We're letting them know where we stand."

Additional comments came from Lenoir City Councilman Eddie Simpson as Mayor Aikens leaned and whispered something to City Attorney Scott.

Councilman Eddie Simpson commented, "I feel like we have accepted entirely too much on changes in our lives that people impose on us and I think that if we had gone back when the Supreme Court had been hearing a ruling on this I think we could have made a strong impact on this. I don't feel like this is too little too late but I think that this is the least we can do." 

Councilman Harry Wampler also spoke on the matter. "I think that as a community, I think that we need to stand up and be counted so many times that is our problem."  We have an election and we look at the numbers of people that voted. We have a county of forty to fifty thousand people and we have ten or fifteen thousand vote. "We need to express our feelings..."  With that said Council voted unanimously to send the city attorney's letter to the Foundation.

Mayor Aikens thanked the crowd for coming.