Spaniard's Bay ready to move forward

Nicholas Mercer
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After months of division, Spaniard’s Bay is ready to move on from the controversies that have rocked the community in recent months.

Concerned Citizens committee chairman Robert Lundrigran (centre) addresses Spaniard's Bay town council during the March 14 regular meeting.

That’s the message Mayor Tony Menchions delivered after the town’s March 14 regular council meeting in the downstairs ballroom of the Municipal Building. After many of the some 60 people who attended the meeting had cleared out, Menchions spoke with an ease that hasn’t been heard in his voice for quite sometime.

“(The meeting) was very, very positive to say the least,” said the mayor. “We’re communicating, we’re all going the same direction and we’re all on the same page. There will be some small bumps here and there, but we’re moving forward.

“I’d say six months or a year from now, we’ll be able to look back and say, ‘this is where we were and this is where we are now.’”

The town has become proactive in address in the need for sensitivity training and updating its sexual harassment policies. Firefighter and town councilor Brenda Seymour went public late last year about instances where she felt sexually harassed while serving on the fire department.

Earlier this year, the majority of the firefighters resigned to support the resignation of Coun. Sheri Collins, who herself alleged Seymour was harassing her.

While these are seen as good steps, many of the positive vibes resonating through the room had to do with the presentation made by the newly formed concerned citizens committee.

Robert Lundrigan, the chair of the committee, spoke at length about the committee’s goals and what they’d like to see council accomplish going forward. He stressed that the committee does not want to replace council, but work with council to overcome the challenges faced by the community.

“Forget personal issues, we want leadership from you and we want you to have a vision moving forward,” said the retired educator. “We certainly want to support you in that.”

His presentation ran for upwards to 35 minutes and touched on a number of issues the committee would like to see addressed. They ranged from providing ample space for the public during meetings, as well as letting the public know about any meetings taking place through various forms of communication.

Lundrigan also listed the need to offer sensitivity training for any member of the community who is interested in it, as well as the completion of the review into the fire department.

“In order to bring closure to this most difficult chapter in our town’s history and to allow us to move forward, we submit that the review must be done and it must include a significant focus on the role of town council in this affair,” he said. “A process that should’ve worked didn’t. We should know what went wrong and we need to ensure people are held accountable or exonerated.”

Apart from Lundrigan’s presentation to council, most of the heavy lifting was done by embattled councillor Seymour.

She tabled a couple of motions regarding to the Spaniard’s Bay fire department, one of which would see the suspension of the council liaison with the brigade. Fire Chief Curt Roberts would report directly to council either in writing or in person.

“That comes from the chief himself,” said Seymour. “(Roberts) wants to eliminate the chances of any communication breakdown.”

She also tabled a motion that would have the town put out a public announcement that would advise people not to obstruct members of the fire department from doing their jobs during an emergency call.

At an earlier meeting this month, some residents expressed their desire to keep Seymour and her husband Martin, also a firefighter, off their property should an emergency occur.

Meanwhile, Spaniard’s Bay hopes to have it fire department up and running either later this week once the Fire and Emergency Services NL signs off on it.

At the tail end of the meeting it was also revealed that town manager Tony Ryan will be returning on a full-time basis.

When the meeting wrapped up, there was a clear sense things were finally starting to look up after all the in fighting that consumed the town since the middle of January.

“We’re after going through one of the hardest times in Spaniard’s Bay’s history and I think we’re doing okay,” said Menchions. “We’re on the other side of the coin and we’re moving forward.”

Organizations: Department of Fire and Emergency

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Recent comments

  • Another SB Resident
    March 16, 2016 - 12:37

    Yes all we want is the truth. There are still so many questions. The video incident was reported in this paper in November. Why didn't the firefighters resign then? Council passed a motion to do an inquiry. Why was this not done? On January 19th 20 plus firefighters resigned in response to the treatment of Councillor Collins. Why has this issue not been addressed. When asked about the resignations the next morning during an interview why didn't Councillor Seymore clarify any facts and instead allow the public to believe the dept resigned because of her allegations. Why didn't the mayor issue a press release stating facts instead of just making a few general comments? Why did the deputy mayor in an interview place blame for the situation on the firefighters who resigned? Why did 10 of the 33 firefighters who were on the active roster on January 18th - many of them very dedicated senior members - not reapply? Former assistant chief was accepted back and has since resigned. Why? The new council liaison with the fire department stepped down. Why? Town manager resigned several weeks ago and is now back again. Why? Why haven't the former firefighters made a statement? These are just a few.

  • SB resident
    March 15, 2016 - 19:51

    I'm a resident of Spaniard's Bay, not originally from this town. The problem in the town stems from some residents disliking Brenda Seymore, and nothing more. They could care less what happened, they just want her gone. They don't believe anything was wrong with the video and consider it a joke. They back the firefighters who left the town to fend for themselves. They want things back the way it was before the controversy. However, from what I gathered, most of the town wants the truth, they want an inquiry. They want to move forward and fix the problems. They want a town they can be proud of again. There will always be backwards hillbillies no matter where you go. Don't think the town agrees with the disgusting behaviour that took place, we want better for everyone!!

  • gord
    March 15, 2016 - 17:50

    Who is the guy in the Spaniard's Bay picture above with his arms crossed? He doesn't look very happy.

  • TU
    March 15, 2016 - 15:31

    See the hypocrites pontificating how lousy with virtues they are! They're not fooling anyone! Sickening!

  • The real Calvin
    March 15, 2016 - 14:59

    Was just thinking the same thing John. You'd rather your house burn down, or a loved one die, than allow emergency personnel on your property. Through all of this, there are still people who believe Seymour was wrong to expect a professional workplace at the fire hall. Take the ever sensible roy206 comment below. He believes "2 minutes of porn" is the issue here. My father shot a moose last fall that has a better grasp of human rights than some of the people commenting on this story.

  • john
    March 15, 2016 - 14:36

    Just imagine the mind set of an individual who felt that playing a porn video in a training session was acceptable behavior. Unfortunately there still seems to be a group of people in this community who do. "At an earlier meeting this month, some residents expressed their desire to keep Seymour and her husband Martin, also a firefighter, off their property should an emergency occur." What planet in 2016 are these people living on away?

  • TU
    March 15, 2016 - 14:21

    roy206, agreed. When things get rolling, eventually, there will be more of the same. It's a pattern.

  • roy206
    March 15, 2016 - 10:46

    So 2 minutes of porn has created " one of the hardest time in Spaniards Bay history"... Wow... As a west coast resident, unaware off the personalities involved in SB, it remains difficult to believe that the residents of the town would accept the mass resignation of the fire department over this issue.. I think the residents will eventually conclude that this was one bad apple spoiling the the whole barrel....The smart move was to get rid of the bad apple some time back,