Un­rest in Cupids

Em­ploy­ees, mayor re­signs; coun­cil re­jects pay in­crease

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY TERRY ROBERTS THE COM­PASS

Tur­moil erupted in The Town of Cupids last week fol­low­ing the res­ig­na­tion of its long­time town clerk, a threat by the main­te­nance em­ployee to also quit, and the un­ex­pected de­par­ture of Ron Laracy, the town’s mayor since 2009.

There’s also ten­sion among mem­bers of coun­cil over a de­ci­sion to re­ject a pro­posed pay in­crease for town em­ploy­ees, and grow­ing con­cern over the es­ca­lat­ing costs of main­tain­ing the town’s in­ven­tory of ag­ing ve­hi­cles.

The first pub­lic hint of un­rest came on Wed­nes­day, Jan. 30 when The Com­pass learned that Laracy had ten­dered his res­ig­na­tion ear­lier in the week.

When con­tacted, Laracy cited work com­mit­ments as the rea­son for his un­ex­pected de­par­ture.

“I have too much on my plate where I’m work­ing and ev­ery­thing,” Laracy said.

Laracy de­nied that his de­par­ture had any­thing to do with a re­cent dis­agree­ment among coun­cil mem­bers over a pro­posed pay in­crease for the two mu­nic­i­pal em­ploy­ees.

“It was no is­sue in par­tic­u­lar,” he said. “I just didn’t have time for it.”

‘Work­ing for noth­ing’

Coun­cil voted down a pro­posed five-per cent pay in­crease for staff dur­ing a re­cent priv­i­leged meet­ing, with only Deputy Mayor Ross Dawe and Coun. Harold Akerman sup­port­ing the mo­tion. Both are mem­bers of the fi­nance com­mit­tee.

Laracy and coun­cil­lors Kevin Con­nolly, Doug Furey, Chris­tine Burry and Har­vey Pud­dis­ter voted against the in­crease.

In re­sponse, town clerk Ivy King submitted a let­ter of res­ig­na­tion on Jan. 29. The Com­pass has learned the town’s main­te­nance em­ployee, Ray Sparkes, also served no­tice that he would ten­der his res­ig­na­tion on Feb. 1 un­less the pay in­crease was ap­proved.

King is work­ing her two-week no­tice pe­riod, which ex­pires Feb. 12.

Dis­carded on the street be­low are the rem­nants of the bed­room. The grand­daugh­ter’s mat­tress and box spring dumped onto the nar­row side­walk.

The cause of the f ire is sti l l un­known.

When fire crews ar­rived, Paul and Marinna were stand­ing, watch­ing the blaze.

Fire Chief Ray Verge said fire­fight­ers did a “great job” in lim­it­ing some of the dam­age to the home.

The top level of the home was com­pletely gut­ted by fire, while the bot­tom level sus­tained heavy smoke and water dam­age, ac­cord­ing to Paul, who vis­ited the home late last week.

“(Fire­fight­ers) ad­vanced through the house and com­pleted a very ag­gres­sive at­tack on the fire,” said Verge. “(Fire­fight­ers) were able to keep the fire to that bed­room. Although the home sus­tained some smoke and heat dam­age, the fire dam­age was pretty much to that one area.”

Verge said the cou­ple “got out just in time,” adding that, “With th­ese old houses, fire takes no time to spread.”

While the cou­ple did not sus­tain any phys­i­cal harm, Paul was ad­mit­ted to Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hospi­tal for mi­nor smoke in­hala­tion and was re­leased on Jan. 31.

The cou­ple had been in the home for 40 years.

When the cou­ple re­turned to the home late last week, Paul ad­mit­ted it was a dif­fi­cult sight to be­hold.

“Go back and look at some­thing you’ve had for a long, long time and all of sud­den there it is, gone,” he said.

The cou­ple has home­owner’s in­surance.

As of Feb. 1, the cou­ple was stay­ing at the Har­bour Grace Mo­tel.

“We both got out, that’s the main thing,” he said.

nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Photo by Ni­cholas Mercer/the Com­pass

This is the af­ter­math of a res­i­den­tial fire on Water Street in Har­bour Grace last week that caused ex­ten­sive dam­age to a 40-year-old home. There were no se­ri­ous in­juries, and the town’s fire bri­gade was able to save the dwelling from to­tal loss.

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