Sum­mer pro­gram gen­er­ates de­bate

Coun­cil to seek meet­ing with re­cre­ation com­mis­sion fol­low­ing com­plaints, in­jury

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS

The sum­mer re­cre­ation pro­gram in Spa­niard’s Bay was a topic of heated dis­cus­sion at last week’s coun­cil meet­ing fol­low­ing a litany of com­plaints from par­ents and a re­port that one young par­tic­i­pant suf­fered a bro­ken el­bow.

There were ac­cu­sa­tions that the chil­dren of those on the com­mis­sion were given pref­er­en­tial treat­ment dur­ing the reg­is­tra­tion process, that some young peo­ple from the town were un­able to reg­is­ter be­cause some of the

Deputy Mayor Tony Men­chions

al­loted spaces were filled by non-res­i­dents, and that sum­mer staff were not pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate su­per­vi­sion and pro­gram­ming for the chil­dren.

There were also sto­ries of chil­dren re­ceiv­ing se­ri­ous burns fol­low­ing long pe­ri­ods of un­pro­tected ex­po­sure to the sun.

The dis­cus­sion en­sued af­ter Coun. Brenda Sey­mour, coun­cil’s li­ai­son with the town’s re­cre­ation com­mis­sion, in­tro­duced an e-mail writ­ten by com­mis­sion co-chair Clarence M. Nose­wor­thy. The e-mail was writ­ten to the town’s re­cre­ation di­rec­tor, and copied to other com­mis­sion and town of­fi­cials.

‘ Burned to a crisp’

Nose­wor­thy wrote that par­ents were com­plain­ing that sum­mer staff were “in the kitchen do­ing cross­words, tex­ting or what­ever” in­stead of su­per- vis­ing the roughly 60 chil­dren en­rolled in the pro­gram.

He said par­ents also com­plained that not enough staff were su­per­vis­ing chil­dren in the play­ground, and that many chil­dren had suf­fered sun­burns.

“ Most kids on Fri­day past were burned to a crisp, in­clud­ing my two kids,” Nose­wor­thy wrote.

He added that one child sus­tained a bro­ken el­bow, and he raised con­cerns that he was not no­ti­fied of the in­ci­dent.

“ We heard it through other par­ents,” Nose­wor­thy wrote.

Coun­cillers ex­pressed alarm about Nose­wor­thy’s as­sess­ment of the pro­gram.

“It’s time we re­assess … the whole sys­tem,” said Sey­mour.

Mayor John W. Drover said he re­ceived calls from up­set par­ents with com­plaints about what he de­scribed as an “un­fair” reg­is­tra­tion process.

When con­tacted by The Com­pass, Nose­wor­thy con­firmed there is a “pre­reg­is­tra­tion” for the chil­dren of com­mis­sion vol­un­teers.

“ The com­mit­tee would have felt that if peo­ple are will­ing to vol­un­teer their time, it would have been nice for their kids to pre-reg­is­ter. We also felt this could en­cour­age other peo­ple to vol­un­teer,” he ex­plained.

When asked if he was com­fort­able with such a pol­icy, Nose­wor­thy replied: “ I guess peo­ple could have con­cerns.”

Nose­wor­thy de­scribed the pro- gram and the sum­mer staff as “great,” and noted “there’s al­ways some things that hap­pen.”

As for non-res­i­dent chil­dren be­ing reg­is­tered with the pro­gram, Coun. Sey­mour ex­plained that reg­is­tra­tion was broad­ened to “ first come-first serve” af­ter the dead­line for res­i­dent chil­dren had passed.

Town clerk/man­ager Tony Ryan cau­tioned against set­ting re­stric­tions on who can reg­is­ter for the pro­gram, since the fund­ing is pro­vided by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Mean­while, Coun. Wayne Smith said it should be the re­spon­si­bil­ity of par­ents to ap­ply pro­tec­tive sun­screen to their chil­dren; not sum­mer staff.

Drover also crit­i­cized Sey­mour, say­ing she should have taken a more proac­tive role on the com­mis­sion.

“ Brenda should have stepped in and said ‘stop.’ Let’s go to coun­cil with this,” said Drover.

Sey­mour said it’s not her role as a go-be­tween to mi­cro­man­age the af­fairs of the com­mis­sion.

Town clerk/man­ager Tony Ryan

In the end, coun­cil agreed to ar­range a meet­ing with mem­bers of the re­cre­ation com­mis­sion to dis­cuss the mat­ter.

District boundary is­sue still sim­mer­ing

Mem­bers of coun­cil con­tinue to ex­press their dis­plea­sure at the way the town is di­vided on the pro­vin­cial elec­toral map, with the north­ern part of the town, in­clud­ing Til­ton, rep­re­sented by Car­bon­ear-Har­bour Grace MHA and cabi­net min­is­ter Jerome Kennedy, and the south­ern sec­tion rep­re­sented by Port de Grave MHA and Lib­eral politi­cian Roland But­ler.

Some coun­cil­lors have ex­pressed frus­tra­tion that the town has strug­gled to ob­tain fund­ing for things such as road up­grades, and sug­gest the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion may be re­spon­si­ble.

“ We need to get the ball rolling on this,” said Coun. Wayne Smith, who has been at the fore­front on this is­sue. Smith has been quite vo­cal in re­cent meet­ings about what he calls the poor con­di­tion of pro­vin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal roads in the area, and the lack of at­ten­tion be­ing paid to these is­sues.

Coun. Eric Jewer

Coun­cil has been at­tempt­ing to ar­range a meet­ing with Kennedy.

Garbage dis­posal con­cerns

The cost of this year’s spring cleanup topped $40,000, re­sult­ing in some coun­cil­lors won­der­ing how the town can af­ford to keep up with the in­creas­ing cost of garbage col­lec­tion and dis­posal.

“ This sys­tem is go­ing to bank­rupt a lot of towns,” said deputy mayor Tony Men­chions.

As part of a shift to re­gional waste dis­posal, garbage from Con­cep­tion Bay North and Trin­ity South must now be shipped to the Robin Hood Bay waste dis­posal site in St. John’s.

In re­cent years, the tip­ping fee for a tonne of waste has in­creased from just over $20 to more than $65.

Spa­niard’s Bay has bud­geted roughly $180,000 for waste dis­posal this year, said town clerk/ man­ager Tony Ryan.

Coun­cil­lors have agreed to look at new ways of re­duc­ing the cost of the ser­vice, and will look to meet with mem­bers of the Up­per Is­land Cove town coun­cil in the com­ing weeks to dis­cuss some op­tions, in­clud­ing the pur­chase of a new com­pact­ing truck be­tween the two mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

Cur­rently, both towns are un­der con­tract to the same com­pany. The con­tract ex­pires in Oc­to­ber.

Com­mit­tee grant in­creased

Coun­cil has agreed to in­crease its grant to the the town’s spe­cial events

Mayor John W. Drover

com­mit­tee, which runs the an­nual Lassy Days fes­ti­val.

Ex­penses for the fes­ti­val have now sur­passed $ 20,000, up from about $9,000 two or three years ago.

The town has agreed to a grant of $1,500, up from $500 in re­cent years.

“ I think it would be a dis­credit if we did not help them in some way,” said Mayor Drover.

Lassy Days started Aug. 1 and con­cludes Aug. 7.

Dis­cus­sions about new staff

It could be later this fall be­fore the town makes a de­ci­sion on the hir­ing of a new plan­ning and de­vel­op­ment of­fi­cer.

The town ad­ver­tised for the po­si­tion sev­eral months ago, and has re­ceived nearly two dozen ap­pli­ca­tions. But the hir­ing process has slowed this sum­mer, and there’s also talk of adding some new du­ties to the po­si­tion.

Mean­whi le, a sug­ges­tion by Coun. Sherri Collins that the town hire a new main­te­nance/ en­force­ment worker will be stud­ied by the fi­nance com­mit­tee, with a view to­wards fund­ing the po­si­tion in next year’s op­er­at­ing bud­get.

Hous­ing starts steady

The town has ap­proved the con­struc­tion of 18 res­i­den­tial dwellings so far this year, which is on par with 2010, when 36 homes were ap­proved, said town clerk/man­ager Tony Ryan.

Coun. Sherri Collins

Coun. Wayne Smith

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