A smaller sign saying only “Support Our Troops” will be posted Saturday at Highway 49 and Combie Road in South County, in place of an earlier version that was double the size and included a church’s name at the top.
Bob and Annabell Dougherty, members of the Simple Truth Church, said some of their congregants have cut off the church’s name from the top of the earlier sign and will be posting the remaining “Support Our Troops” portion. The smaller size of the halved sign structure will make it Nevada County code-compliant, said Bob Dougherty.
“The most important thing is that we get the message out to support our troops,” he said.
The top half with the church’s name will be posted separately, he added.
“We wanted to do the right thing,” Annabell Dougherty said. “We don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.”
She was referring to what started as a mild local controversy in December that quickly went viral nationally. The so-called “tempest in a teapot,” as it was described in The Union in December, was over the original sign that carried the church’s name prominently on top. A complaint about the sign was filed with Nevada County.
Nevada County Planning Director Brian Foss said at the time that the structure of the sign — and not anything related to its content — needed to be updated for it to come into code compliance.
The old sign, installed years ago and grandfathered into county code at that time, was sitting at the Highway 49 intersection when Bob Dougherty leased an office for the church there in November, he said. The office was to house the Bible study classes for the church, located just down the way at 10556 Combie Road. As part of signing the lease, the church congregants cleaned up and painted the office building and repainted the sign, which had formerly advertised a real estate office.
“It had banners covering it,” Dougherty said of the sign. “When we took off the banners, it was all faded.”
According to Nevada County code, the change and repainting of the sign voided the former waiver and triggered a need for the sign to meet current county code requirements.
Although the county’s issues were with the structure of the sign, the viral controversy was over content.
“We got lots of letters and emails that people didn’t want the ‘Support our Troops’ part taken down,” Bob Dougherty said.
After a meeting with Foss, church members took the sign down for reworking in mid-January.
Now, according to the Doughertys, the church is cleared by Nevada County to repost the bottom half of the sign, which carries the church’s main message, they said. Foss could not be reached on Thursday to confirm, but The Union reported in December that he said that posting only the bottom half would be acceptable.
“Simple Truth has a lot of members with relatives — sons, daughters — and friends in the military,” Bob Dougherty said. “Anyone in the congregation who has relatives in the military, we post their photos on the screen (at Sunday services) and pray for them.”
To contact Staff Writer Keri Brenner, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4239.