A proclamation but no pinwheels: Board maintains consistency regarding use of city planters

BUCKHANNON – A City of Buckhannon board approved proclaiming April 2022 Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month but stopped short of allowing symbolic pinwheels to be placed in City Hall planters.

The Consolidated Public Works Board received a request from the Upshur County Family Resource Network to place pinwheels in City Hall’s planters, raise/display the Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness flag, and perform a proclamation during the March 24 CPWB meeting.

Pinwheels, or Pinwheels for Prevention, are the national symbol of child abuse prevention and awareness and they signify the ideas of playfulness, joy and childhood. They are typically placed in city hall planters.

“Last year this request did not appear before this board – it just happened – and if you’ll recall in the month of May, we declined to have decorations in the planters and the flagpole to keep everything on Main Street from becoming a political back-and-forth,” Mayor Robbie Skinner said. “There are flags and colors for everything, and we were reminded by our city attorney, the planters are reserved for the flowers.”

The Consolidated board made the decision to not allow any decorations in the planters during its May 27, 2021, meeting when they were asked to proclaim June as Pride Month. A previous My Buckhannon article outlined the decision-making process. At the time, city attorney Tom O’Neill advised city officials that planters are a non-public forum regarding the legality of the expression of free speech in public venues.

Skinner emphasized the need to maintain consistency.

“I’m happy to do a proclamation and we can do a nice photo op with the pinwheels like we did with Pride month flags,” Skinner said. “We set that precedent last year and I think we should stay consistent and keep things out of the planners just to protect the City of Buckhannon and protect the board.”

“We can’t be arbitrary and capricious in our actions,” he added, “so I think we should do the proclamation, but not do anything with the planters or the flagpole.”

The Consolidated Board approved hosting a proclamation, which is set for 11 a.m. Monday, April 4 at City Hall.

In other Consolidated Public Works Board news:

  • The board approved an event request for the Lions Club Matt Hymes Memorial Easter Egg Hunt on Saturday, April 16
  • The board approved an event request for South Buckhannon Mission Church Easter Egg Hunt-City Park on Sunday, April 17

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