Constantine Villages adopts civility statement

CONSTANTINE — The Constantine Village Council adopted the St. Joseph County Statement on Civility by a 6-1 vote this week.
Trustee Richard Larrance casted the single no vote.
Bill Russell, CEO at Three Rivers Health and a member of the Three Rivers Area Chamber of Commerce (TRACC) Policy Committee was at the meeting to provide background, and answer questions about the civility statement.
“The statement was drafted by Prof. Bob Wertkins at Western Michigan University, and was amended by the Public Policy Committees from both the Sturgis and Three Rivers Chambers of Commerce to make it more applicable to our county,” Russell said. “It increases the effectiveness of the meeting process.
“Thus far it has been adopted by both the Three Rivers and Sturgis Chambers of Commerce, the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners, Three Rivers Health, the City of Sturgis, Sturgis Township and Nottawa Township. Several other municipalities and organizations are expected to consider adopting it in the near future.”
Russell said there has been a lot of disagreement in various community groups regarding the statement.
“It’s okay to have dissenting opinions, but the last couple of years there has been a lot of acrimony. There is no actual enforcement of the civility statement. We’re just hoping if anyone violates the statement someone will point it out to (him or her),” he said. “It is not legal or binding.”
Village manager/police chief Mark Honeysett said, “People are going to be passionate when they come to council meetings. It’s honest, and it’s critical to how we function to allow it.”
Council president Gary Mathers and several council members said the council promotes freedom of speech.

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