Rockwall County commissioners are expected to formally and finally decide Monday where “In God We Trust” will be placed on the new Rockwall County Courthouse.

During a work session Tuesday, commissioners viewed various options prepared by Brinkley Sargent Architects. Commissioners discussed the options for almost an hour, but they could not agree on one choice.

Then, they huddled. After a few minutes, they decided to ask the architect to prepare one more design. This design, which will be considered at the 10 a.m. Monday meeting, apparently will show the commissioners’ idea of how “Rockwall County Courthouse” and “In God We Trust” should appear on the building.

After the county judge and three county commissioners expressed their preferences from the architect-prepared options, Commissioner Jerry Wimpee said he was concerned that there would not be agreement on one choice.

“It would be my goal to find a way to agree, and the worst side of that would be a 2-2 vote,” Wimpee said.

And a newspaper headline could state that the “court has changed the emphasis of ‘In God We Trust’ to ‘over God we fight,” he said.

“That is not what any of us wants to happen,” Wimpee added.

The first mention of having the national motto placed on the new courthouse was made at a Sept. 21 meeting. The topic has been discussed at three meetings since Sept. 21.

The architect’s designs have included various options involving the placement of “Rockwall County Courthouse” and/or “In God We Trust” on the pediment — a triangular section found above the structure. Other options have included using a ground-level structure for one of the messages.

At this week’s meetings, commissioners were allowed to express their thoughts about the issue. Commissioner David Magness was absent.

Commissioner Dennis Bailey defended the use of the motto, which he said some may consider a “religious-type phrase.”

“Someone might think of that as being a religious-type phrase that’s on there, but clearly, we’re referring to this -- and I want to be clear --that this is the national motto that we’re discussing and placing that on a building that is the highest form of government that’s in Rockwall County,” Bailey said.

County Judge Chris Florance said placing the motto on the building “is not for us.”

“It’s not about us,” Florance added. “It’s about those who will come after us and wonder why would they put such a statement on a building. Because I think when we lose sight of that motto, however you view it, that’s when we’ll lose a lot.”

For more, see the Oct. 29 issue of the Rockwall County Herald-Banner.

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