Rowan commissioners schedule emergency meeting for Monday to discuss prayer lawsuit

  • Posted: Sunday, March 17, 2013 4:19 p.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, March 18, 2013 12:36 a.m.

SALISBURY — The Rowan County Board of Commissioners has scheduled an emergency meeting for 4:30 p.m. Monday to discuss with its attorney the prayer lawsuit filed against the board.

Commissioners are supposed to hold their regular meeting at 6 p.m. Monday.

Both meetings will take place in the J. Newton Cohen Sr. Room on the second floor of the Rowan County Administration Building, 130 W. Innes St.

But the 4:30 p.m. meeting will be a closed session to the public. Commissioners have invoked the general statute allowing a closed meeting for attorney-client privileged communication regarding pending litigation.

Carolyn Barger, clerk to the board and assistant to the county manager, sent out notices of the emergency meeting Sunday.

The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Rowan County commissioners. The suit claims commissioners have violated the rights of three Rowan residents by beginning their meetings with predominantly sectarian prayers.

The five commissioners say they disagree with the ACLU’s claim that the opening prayers are unconstitutional and have vowed they will continue praying.

A spillover crowd has been anticipated for the 6 p.m. meeting, and the county has made arrangements with television monitors and another room to accommodate some of the spectators who can’t fit in the Cohen Room, which holds about 100 people.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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