The sound of roaring applause could be heard last week throughout the halls of St. Michaels School after the Talbot County Board of Education reversed its decision to deny the St. Michaels Volunteer Fire Department’s request for use of school grounds to hold its annual fundraising carnival. School Board President Gloria Farrare announced at the meeting that the board would consider approving a new request from the fire department, but said afterward that the carnival is basically approved, pending a meeting between the fire department and Talbot County Public Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon to discuss safety issues.
During her announcement, Farrare said the board originally denied the request because they were under the impression that the same carnival operator from years past would be used again this year. As part of their December 16, 2009 decision, the school board cited a distrust in past carnival workers, who they said brought alcohol and guns onto school premises. Based on information presented by the fire department on the new carnival company, including letters of recommendation from organizations that have used the company and assurances that carnival workers will not stay in trailers on the school premises, Farrare said the school board will allow a new request to be submitted.
Following Farrare’s announcement, school board member Robert Burris proposed a motion directing Salmon and her staff to meet with representatives of the fire department to develop a revised contract that ensures the “safety and well-being of the students, citizens, adjoining property owners and (the) newly renovated buildings and grounds,” which was unanimously approved. Burris said after the meeting that the decision to allow the fire department to submit a new request, which was discussed in closed session earlier that afternoon, also was unanimously approved by the school board.
While many firefighters, elected officials and community members were prepared to urge the board to reconsider its decision during the public comment period, they instead found themselves thanking the school board for the opportunity to revive the deep-rooted town tradition, which has been absent for the past three years because of renovations to St. Michaels Middle-High School.