- Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 22:06
- Published on Tuesday, 17 August 2010 22:06
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Colonial Beach resident and frequent critic Walter Kerns spoke out at last Thursday’s Town Council meeting saying: “It is not good when the mayor and Chamber of Commerce is bickering in relation to events last Saturday.” Kerns further noted that “I gave a lot of thought to this last remark, but if this fighting continues between council, the mayor and the chamber — Mr. Mayor, you need to step aside.”
Kerns’ comments were made during Citizen Input time and were directed at an incident that took place on the boardwalk on Saturday, Aug. 8 between 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m. before the start of the APBA jet ski races event.
According to several citizens who witnessed the event Mayor Fred Rummage and Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce President Carey Geddes, were arguing when Rummage pushed Geddes in the chest several times.
According to witnesses, the two were discussing what has been referred to around town as the “pizza wars.” Papa John’s Pizza had paid to be a sponsor of the jet ski race and was granted an exclusive right to sell pizza on the boardwalk to race enthusiasts. The town cheerleaders were selling pizza that had been donated by Ledo’s.
After the cheerleaders were told they were not able to sell the pizza because of the exclusivity arrangement, Rummage approached Geddes and an argument ensued, which culminated in Rummage pushing Geddes.
Geddes declined to comment on the incident.
Rummage, who was elected in May 2008, is no stranger to controversy. On April 9, 2009, Rummage was evicted from his office at town hall by resolution of town council that stated he was “interfering with and obstructing the efficient operations of the town.” Rummage was further sanctioned by council resolution in May of 2009 that barred him from being present at town hall except by appointment or invitation of the town manager and that resolution directed the town attorney to issue Rummage a No Trespass notice.
Power Cut Off
Shortly after Kerns made his remarks, Kyle Schick, chamber member and business owner, took the podium. Schick reported that, overall, the jet ski event was “a real success” as was the Yacht Center’s Dog Days event, which had an attendance of 72-plus boats. Schick noted that the jet ski races “could grow to something Colonial Beach could get a lot of energy out of.”
Schick’s remarks continued to the town’s decision to turn off the electricity to the jet ski event at 1 p.m. on Saturday. Schick stated that “as a former member of this council, I feel that it is very, very disappointing that something like this would happen.” Schick further stated that “It would have been a national embarrassment for Colonial Beach if we didn’t have a generator for something as minor as one permit.”
According to Town Manager Val Foulds, an electric permit had never been issued for the event. Foulds further stated that the use of the town’s electricity “was not safe” and that there were public safety issues with the electric hook-up. Police Chief Wells and Major Kenneth Blevins Sr. provided a generator at 1 p.m. for use during the event. Although Foulds cited a safety issue, according to Geddes there was no mention of a safety issue by anyone to him and, further, no instructions were provided to him to alleviate the safety issue by the town or representatives of the police department.
Geddes stated that he was informed by Police Chief Wells at 11:30 a.m. that the power to the event would be cut off at 1 p.m. Geddes further stated that “nobody ever presented it as a public safety issue. When we inquired Saturday morning, we were told we needed an electric permit and that power would be cut off at 1 p.m.”
The chamber has sponsored other events in town and had always been issued an “event permit” which had always covered an electrical hook-up. According to Geddes, the event permit issued by the town covered the event from town hill to the cannon and that all insurance and other requirements of the permit had been met.
Geddes further noted that when he made a request to get the proper permit, he was told by Foulds that the town did not have an electric permit available; that the needed permit “was not even designed yet.” According to Geddes “The Town of Colonial Beach and Westmoreland County were partners in this event and for the town to pull the power halfway through the first day was uncalled for.”