At the recent Feb. 15 Collegedale commission meeting, commissioners voted to add the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance to the order of business for all city commission meetings.
According to Mayor Katie Lamb, the ordinance will take effect 30 days from Feb. 15, starting in March.
The idea surfaced after Jim and Sherrye Willis, a local couple, moved to Ooltewah from Lakeland, Tenn. Prior to relocating to the area in August 2020, the couple ran an online news site in Lakeland and attended all the town’s local government meetings, according to Willis. They began attending Collegedale meetings after moving to the area.
At the Dec. 7, 2020 commission meeting, Willis suggested during the public comments portion of the meeting to add the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance to the order of business, according to the Dec. 7 commission minutes.
“The Board of Commissioners, Planning Commision, Design Review Board, etc., all began their meetings with a prayer and the Pledge,” Willis said of Lakeland. “I missed that opening acknowledgement of God and country in Collegedale, so suggested that the Collegedale commissioners consider adding the Pledge at their meetings.”
After Willis made his comment, Lamb and the commission added the suggestion to the topics for the next commission workshop scheduled for Jan. 12, 2021.
“Adding the Pledge of Allegiance is not an issue for me,” Lamb said. “For some reason, when the city was formed in 1968, the commissioners chose not to have it as part of the opening exercises.”
“Many cities include it routinely,” she said. “So, after researching past minutes and determining that it was an option for the commission to decide, we voted to include it. The state does not require it.”
According to the Jan. 25, 2021 commission workshop minutes, the Collegedale commission agreed to continue the process of adding the Pledge of Allegiance to the order of business of Collegedale commission meetings. The addition would amend the current Municipal Code and would require commissioners to vote on it as an ordinance.
An ordinance is a piece of legislation or law voted on and enacted by a municipal authority, the governing body of a town or city. Collegedale’s Municipal Code is a collection of all of the laws that have been voted on and approved.
At the Feb. 1 commission meeting, commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the first reading for Ordinance #1091, the ordinance for adding the Pledge of Allegiance to the Collegedale commission meetings.
“I feel the Pledge is to be honored and to remind people we are one nation under God. We are all equal, and it will remind others that we are united as [a county],” Commissioner Debbie Baker said. “We may differ on political and religious beliefs, but we are united as a nation. I’m all for it.”
At the next commission meeting on Feb. 15, commissioners unanimously voted in favor of the second reading for Ordinance #1091.
“[Ordinance #1091 amends] Municipal Code Section 1-102 relating to the order of business in the conduct of regular City commission meetings to add the recitation of The Pledge of Allegiance,” as stated in the Feb. 1 commission minutes.
According to Commissioner Phil Garver, son of a veteran and a Vietnam Veteran himself, patriotism is an important aspect of his life. He has been in support of the Veteran Park in Collegedale and has worked for the last 20 years on the project.
“So as you might expect, I’m very much in favor of saying the Pledge often and with pride,” Garver said.
“I’m very [supportive] of adding The Pledge of Allegiance,” Commissioner Tim Johnson said. “… For me, the Pledge of Allegiance is a sign of patriotism. It means a lot to our history, and I’m proud to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.”