Let­ting his voice be heard

Mayor ap­palled by res­i­dent’s at­tack on town

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DENISE PIKE — Don Coombs, mayor of Har­bour Grace

The mayor of Har­bour Grace says he is more than proud of his town and takes ex­cep­tion to Har­bour Grace, its res­i­dents and coun­cil mem­bers be­ing be­rated on the In­ter­net.

“ It’s in­sult­ing, the town doesn’t de­serve it and I don’t ap­pre­ci­ate it,” says Don Coombs re­fer­ring to the Face­book so­cial net­work­ing site “ Speak loud and let your voice be heard in Har­bour Grace.”

Res­i­dent Pauline Yet­man es­tab­lished the site as a way of in­cit­ing res­i­dents to clean up and beau­tify the town.

The mayor feels it has only in­cited dis­ap­point­ment and rage.

“I don’t sub­scribe to Face­book, but I’ve read the com­ments posted on that web­site, they’ve been bought to my at­ten­tion and I strongly dis­agree with what is be­ing said about Har­bour Grace,” he says. “It’s be­yond dis­ap­point­ing and is re­ally no way to try to solve an is­sue. She ( Yet­man) has never con­tacted me to dis­cuss her con­cerns and never re­quested a meet­ing ”

The s i te fea­tures pho­tos of garbage, scrap, weeds and trees, which are strewn around the town.

The mayor feels Yet­man has taken her quest to clean up the town too far.

“ That site con­tains pic­tures and names of some busi­nesses in the town and I can tell you this they aren’t too pleased about that,” he said. “Some of the com­ments posted re­fer to the town be­ing run by and con­trolled by an elite group of peo­ple. They even cite a re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion as con­tribut­ing to some of it, which is fool­ish­ness. It’s too silly to talk about.”

”She ( Yet­man) won’t be get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to speak un­til she apol­o­gises to coun­cil for some of the re­marks she made and has posted on Face­book.”

Per­sonal at­tack

Coombs ac­knowl­edges more could be done to tidy up the town, but says Har­bour Grace is no dif­fer­ent than other mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

“All towns have is­sues and our town is no dif­fer­ent,” he says. “Do we have res­i­dents and busi­nesses here that need to clean up their prop­erty? Yes we do and coun­cil is do­ing what we can to en­sure that, but this is also the time of year when many prop­er­ties are a mess and need to be cleaned up. It’s like that ev­ery­where and when spring rolls around it’ll be done.”

Coombs feels the com­ments posted by mem­bers of the Face­book group about the money ($33,329) be­ing used to ex­tend the soc­cer com­plex be­hind St. Fran­cis School are a per­sonal at­tack on him.

“They (Face­book group) talk about it be­ing a waste of money,” he said. “ Those com­ments were prob­a­bly di­rected at me be­cause I’m pres­i­dent of the CBN Mi­nor Soc­cer As­so­ci­a­tion. They say the money could be put to bet­ter use, put to­wards clean­ing up the town. For some rea­son they be­lieve the fund­ing for the ex­ten­sion to the soc­cer field is com­ing from the town, but that’s not cor­rect, not one cent of it comes from the mu­nic­i­pal­ity. It’s all fed­eral/pro­vin­cial money and only al­lo­cated for projects like the soc­cer field. They may not agree with it, but I have 500 kids in the soc­cer pro­gram who are quite happy the money

is go­ing to the soc­cer field.”

Tourist at­trac­tion

Ac­cord­ing to Coombs the town has been mak­ing an ef­fort to main­tain the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Park, but won’t be able to hon­our Yet­man’s re­quest to fix the wa­ter foun­tains.

“ We had them checked out and they are be­yond re­pair,” he said.

Coombs says he’s ap­palled by Yet­man’s com­ments on the Kear­ney Tourist Chalet, which in­cluded re­fer­ring to the site as a junk­yard.

“It’s dis­ap­point­ing to know that’s what she thinks of Roger Pike’s do­na­tion of the Spirit of Har­bour Grace plane and the fund­ing for the Amelia Ear­heart statue and the other his­toric as­pects of that area,” says Coombs. “She obliv­i­ously has no un­der­stand­ing of the im­por­tance of that area or of how many peo­ple show up here each year to have their pho­tos taken by that plane. It’s a big tourist at­trac­tion and many towns in this prov­ince would love to have it in their area. Here she is call­ing it a junk­yard… that’s unreal!”

Apol­o­gise first

Yet­man has writ­ten a let­ter ex­press­ing her con­cerns to the town coun­cil and is hop­ing to speak at a meet­ing some­time this week. How­ever Coombs says she will have to apol­o­gise to coun­cil first.

“ She made some pretty nasty re­marks about coun­cil mem­bers in­clud­ing call­ing us use­less,” says Coombs. “ I can un­der­stand peo­ple be­ing frus­trated. We (coun­cil) are far from per­fect and there are lots of im­prove­ments to be made, but we are work­ing for the bet­ter­ment of the town. She won’t be get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to speak un­til she apol­o­gises to coun­cil for some of the re­marks she made and has posted on Face­book.”

Un­fair, in­ac­cu­rate

Coombs feels Yet­man who moved back to Har­bour Grace from Mis­sis­sauga On­tario last July, where she lived for the past 22 years, is pre­sent­ing an un­fair and in­ac­cu­rate im­pres­sion of Har­bour Grace.

“ You don’t come into a town af­ter be­ing away for years and start com­plain­ing and tear­ing down,” he says. “ If she ( Yet­man) wants to change things she should be meet­ing and work­ing with coun­cil - in­stead of that she is pub­licly in­sult­ing and bash­ing both us and the town. This is a good lit­tle town and the peo­ple here are hard­work­ing and they al­ready have a lot of com­mu­nity pride. They don’t need any­one to give them any lessons in that. I can un­der­stand some­one hav­ing con­cerns and want­ing to make changes, but there is no need to go out at­tack­ing every­one or tear­ing a town down to do it.”

The mayor says if Yet­man is so un­happy with the work of coun­cil she should have put her name on the bal­lot in the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tion last Septem­ber.

“ If it’s that bad here in Har­bour Grace she ( Yet­man) and her bud­dies should have run, voted us all out, them­selves in and then ran the town their way,” he con­cluded.

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