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'In God We Trust,' shelters on agenda

TURLOCK — In an unusual scheduling quirk, the Turlock City Council and the Turlock Unified School District board of trustees have overlapping meetings this week.

Generally, the City Council meets the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month, and the school district the first, and occasionally third, Tuesdays.

But they're both meeting this week, and both have meaty agendas.

The City Council starts things off at 6 p.m. with a workshop on four possibilities for the city's general plan update. That's followed at 7 p.m. with the regular council meeting, where members will consider sending the Carnegie Arts Center construction project out to bid — again — and inscribing "In God We Trust" on the wall behind the council dais.

The council also will conduct a public hearing on a proposed amendment to its consolidated plan regarding homeless services. The plan is required by the department of Housing and Urban Development, and originally called for the city to open a cold-weather shelter each winter.

Staff is proposing that the money instead go to faith-based and nonprofit organizations that provide cold-weather shelter to homeless people.

The rebuilding project at the arson-damaged Carnegie Arts Center went out to bid earlier this year, but the city rejected all the bids it got after one bidder threatened to sue.

A council committee has been working with artists on how to inscribe "In God We Trust" on the wall. The issue came up after the Freedom From Religion Foundation sent the city a letter seeking an end to the prayers that open each council meeting.

Councilman Kurt Spycher suggested that instead of halting the invocations, the city should put the national motto on the wall. He has offered to cover the costs.

Some citizens suggested using "We the People" instead, which will be considered for another wall in the council chambers. Councilman Ted Howze has offered to pay for that.

Over at the school board, trustees will get their look at the agreement the city passed last month regarding the Joe Debely Stadium project. In a controversial move, the city authorized $2.8 million in redevelopment money to upgrade the Turlock High School stadium with a synthetic, all-weather track and field.

The school district will have to kick in about $600,000 of its own redevelopment money to bring the stadium's restrooms into compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act, required when making changes to any school facility.

The City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.

The Turlock Unified School District board of trustees meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Performing Arts Building at Turlock High School, 1600 E. Canal Drive.

Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at pguerra@modbee.com or 578-2343.

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