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by Jordan Green

COURT FINDS FORSYTH COMMISSION’S PRAYER UNCONSTITUTIONAL

US District Judge James A. Beaty ordered the Forsyth County Commission to stop conducting sectarian prayer at the beginning of its meetings in a Jan. 28 ruling, holding that the practice violates the Establishment Clause of the Constitution. “The court concludes that the invocation policy, as implemented, has resulted in government-sponsored prayers that advance a specific faith or belief and have the effect of affiliating the government with that specific faith and belief,” Beaty wrote, adding that the Forsyth commission has the option of having non-sectarian prayers that “do not undermine ‘our commitment to participation by persons of all faiths in public life’ and instead ‘evoke common and inclusive themes.’” “I am very happy with the court’s ruling today because this court order preserves freedom of conscience for people of all different beliefs, whether they are in the majority or the minority, by requiring our government to remain neutral in matters of religion,” said plaintiff Constance Blackmon in a prepared statement. Blackmon is a longtime Forsyth County resident who has attended county commission meetings.

BUSINESS 40 IN WINSTON-SALEM TO BE CLOSED FOR REPAIRS

The NC Department of Transportation announced on Jan. 28 that Business 40 from east of Church Street to west of 4 th Street in Winston-Salem will be closed for two years for major improvements. Through a public outreach campaign, the department found that residents favored the two-year closure over an alternate plan that would partially close the thoroughfare for up to six years with one lane available in each direction and only some entrance and exit ramps available. Detour traffic will be rerouted onto US Highway 52, the Salem Creek Connector and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The department has announced no start date for the project.

LOST DIMENSIONS SHUT DOWN UNTIL TRIAL

Superior Court Judge Andy Cromer issued a preliminary injunction against Lost Dimensions on Jan. 28, requiring that the nightclub close immediately until a nuisance abatement case brought by the city of Greensboro goes to trial. The city took action based on its contention that the nightclub “has a long history of criminal violations and problems, including prostitution, drug violations, fights and assaults.” A city-issued press release states that the Greensboro Police Department and the NC Alcohol Law Enforcement Division have been investigating the club over the last six months.

CITY INVESTIGATES FAIR-HOUSING COMPLAINTS AGAINST HOUSING COMPLEX

The Greensboro Human Relations Department has initiated a fair housing investigation of JT Hairston Memorial Homes, City Manager Rashad Young told members of city council in a Jan. 29 memo. The memo reports that the city has requested a continuance of one case that has entered the court system until it can complete its investigation.

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