CENTERVILLE, Iowa — A Nativity scene removed from a county courthouse lawn in southern Iowa won’t be returning.

The scene was erected Nov. 18 outside the Appanoose County Courthouse in Centerville, but some residents complained that a religious display should not be placed on government property.

City Administrator Jason Fraser had approved the display’s location but told organizers that it needed to be moved before Thanksgiving. It took until Dec. 9 before enough volunteers could be gathered to move the display off the lawn and to a new spot about two blocks south.

This Dec. 10, 2019, photo shows a relocated nativity scene in Centerville, Iowa. (Credit: Kyle Ocker/The Daily Iowegian via AP.)

The county owns the building and the land underneath; the city owns the lawn.

The Daily Iowegian reported that at Monday’s City Council meeting, several speakers sharply criticized the scene’s removal and asked that it be moved back.

But Fraser told those in attendance that the Nativity scene location was just a discussion item on the council agenda, so the council could’t take a vote on letting the scene return to the courthouse lawn.

“I think it’s safe to say for the next nine days, the Nativity scene is going to stay where it is,” Mayor Mike O’Connor said.

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