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LETTER War memorial committee have opposing view points

We would appreciate time to respond to an article related to the CMNS War Memorial Committee that appeared in your paper on June 9 and 19, 2014.

The site was developed over 25 years ago on a parcel of land located on the ocean near the mouth of North River.  Funds for the memorial were raised from donations from towns all over the province, including neighboring towns, organizations including the Royal Canadian Legion, Bay Roberts and other branches throughout the island. Since that time a Memorial Service has been held on the site each July 1 and Nov. 11.

The CMNS Committee is not a committee of the Clarke’s Beach town council.  In a letter dated Feb. 25, Clarkes Beach council stated in 2011 the town reached out to the neighboring towns to encourage them to take a more active role in their war memorial committee.

The council asked two councilors to approach the towns of South River, North River and the Makinsons to ask if they would contribute financially to the maintenance of the war memorial site.

The response was a positive one, but the feeling was an independent committee should be formed that would include the towns of Clarke’s Beach, North River, South River and Makinsons to oversee the site in the future.

Thus, the CMNS War Memorial Committee was formed. Updates were given on the work of CMNS. The memorial site at Clarke’s Beach has come about not by one town’s efforts, but by the efforts of neighboring towns, residents, organizations and government. 

After the 2013 November memorial service, Clarke’s Beach council asked for a meeting with CMNS to discuss structure and finances.  A meeting was held at South River Town Hall. 

At the first meeting of the CMNS War Memorial Committee after September 2013 municipal election, Mr. Vokey was asked by the representatives of North River, South River and Makinsons to stay on as Chairperson of the CMNS Committee.  Clarke’s Beach was not present at this meeting. 

Committee member, Mayor Arthur Petten, suggested the committee wait to make a decision as Clarke’s Beach should be in attendance.

The next meeting on Oct. 8, 2013, Mayor Moore arrived with a councillor from Clarke’s Beach.  All towns were in attendance.  After the meeting opened Mayor Moore asked that  Mr. Vokey leave the room.

At that point, Mayor Moore made a motion Mr. Vokey be appointed an “independent chairperson” of the committee, seconded by Elsie Morrissey. It was passed by all. 

Mayor Moore has stated the “war memorial committee should be for elected officials.” She knew that Mr. Vokey was not an elected official, so why the motion?

Two weeks later, CMNS met to plan the Nov. 11 service. Representatives from Clarke’s Beach attended the meeting. Deputy Mayor Wayne Snow advised the committee that he wanted to rescind the motion made by Mayor Moore at the Oct. 8 meeting. 

At a further meeting of CMNS on April 24, 2014 another motion was made this time by Mayor Petten, South River, who wanted to bring some closure to this debate. The motion read that Winston Vokey stay on as chairperson of the committee for a period of one year at which time the matter would be revisited, seconded by Debbie Dixon.  South River, North River and Makinsons were for the motion, with Clarke’s Beach against. 

It was at this meeting Clarke’s Beach gave its first indication their council would go on its own if the matter of the chairperson was not resolved, meaning the removal of Mr. Vokey. There were eight officials at the meeting, six approved of him staying as chairperson, two against.

While the members of the committee at present were elected councilors, it was clearly understood by all towns they could appoint any resident of their community to serve on the committee, as was the case with Makinsons who had a resident serving who was not a member of their service board.  Why would a town want all elected officials when other residents may be willing and qualified to fill the roll?

Clarke’s Beach's Betty Moore stated the committee is set up much like the Bay de Grave Regional Fire Department.

Yes, that is so, but it is stated in their adopted rules and regulations that as a rule one representative will be a member of the governing body (council), if desired, a council or service board may choose the second representative from its town or community.

Clearly, non-elected residents can serve on the board just as they can on CMNS.  The Mayor says she has no intentions of walking away from the regional approach.  It is not the indication given to committee members.  Clarke’s Beach wishes to change the chairperson or they will manage it themselves, not the formula for any regional approach we have ever seen.

At a meeting held on May 22, 2014 the Deputy Mayor of Clarke’s Beach brought along a list of concerns his town had given him.  He read each concern. Clarke’s Beach felt they would not have much to say on the CMNS Committee.  It was pointed out by a committee member, like council, a vote would be taken on matters and majority ruled. 

Deputy Snow’s last statement was Clarke’s Beach council would be taking over the memorial site and doing their own service on July 1, 2014. Clarke’s Beach council felt there was no need for the CMNS War Memorial Committee.

We are concerned over the position Clarke’s Beach council has taken in this matter. We are proud of our association with the memorial site over the years. In a letter to CMNS dated Feb. 25, 2014, Clarke’s Beach stated that their main concern was the appointment of the independent Chairperson, even though their own Mayor made the motion to appoint Mr. Vokey, the independent chairperson, who was causing this controversy.

Clarke’s Beach council choose to ignore a majority vote by the towns of North River, South River and Makinsons by taking things into their own hands. 

Lt.-Gov. James A. McGrath during the opening described the site as a 'Holy Place saying to the young people of the day as you walk by, walk softly by, remember some young man or woman just like you answered the call of their country and many of them did not come back.'

We believe this matter could have been handled in a far better way. Clarke’s Beach council wanted to have the structure of elected officials. The structure did not seem to bother our towns.

When people of the province walk by our beautiful memorial, they should know that it is a people’s memorial placed there by many towns and many people, not just one town.

In this time when people all over the world are saying thank you to our veterans, here in our towns it reads, Dispute over War Memorial in Clarke’s Beach. 

Surely a sad commentary.  

— War Memorial Committee Members of Makinsons, North River and South River.

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