Concerns raised: Was the headline sensationalistic?
by Mike Eldred
Aug 08, 2014 | 4204 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print
DOVER- Selectboard members grilled a local reporter for a daily newspaper at their regular meeting Tuesday evening, over a headline that appeared with an article published in the paper’s weekend edition.

Selectboard chair Randy Terk called the headline, “Concerns raised: Were Nazis marching in Dover parade?” and the article, “sensationalistic.” The headline apparently referred to concerns raised by readers of that publication regarding Living History Association re-enactors who were marching in the Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival parade wearing replica World War II German Army uniforms. They marched along with re-enactors from various periods - from centurions of the Roman Empire to US soldiers of the Vietnam era. Although some readers may have questioned whether the German military-costumed actors were actually members of a modern neo-Nazi group joining in to celebrate local blueberries, the article itself refuted the notion and explained the Living History Association’s involvement in the parade.

The town of Dover sponsors the Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival through its economic development fund, and Terk said he thought it was important to raise the issue to the publication. He questioned the purpose of the article. “I was right along the parade route,” Terk said. “I saw German soldiers and American soldiers, but nobody was wearing a swastika. So I was surprised by the article. I didn’t see the point. It seemed like it was manufactured to be a sensationalization. There was no real story. But I wasn’t surprised to see it on the front page.”

Terk compared the Living History Association re-enactors and their portrayal of German soldiers to that of actors in a movie. “I’ll watch a movie that portrays German soldiers and the Holocaust and, to me, that’s history.”

“If you’re going to use the word ‘Nazi,’ you should be very sure of what you’re talking about,” said board member Vicki Capitani. “I think it was to grab attention for something that was not really a story.”

At the Living History Association’s timeline event in 2013, a group of World War II German Army re-enactors raised a flag with a WWII-era swastika design of the German Nazi Party. After a complaint from a town official, it was taken down. The Living History Association said displaying the Nazi flag was against their event rules.

In other matters, West Dover Fire Chief Rich Werner told board members he planned to schedule a training seminar with the Vermont Department of Liquor Control in September. The training would be for town officials involved in issuing liquor licenses. “Fire officers are asked to sign off on liquor licenses, and I don’t know that much about it. The selectboard may have similar questions – can you hold up a liquor license because someone’s not paying their taxes?”

Switching hats, Werner also told board members that the police department planned to pursue an agreement with the owner of a property abutting the south side of the police department property to extend the department’s parking into the 15-foot setback along the property line. Werner suggested paying the abutting landowner’s attorney to write up an agreement, and have it approved by the town attorney. “They (the abutting property owners) shouldn’t pay anything,” Werner said.

In other land use issues, the town signed an agreement with the owner of an old “horse shed” on land that was thought to be part of the public land surrounding the town common. The situation was discovered by Merrill Mundell during a survey of the property. Mundell also found that the property owner’s well and a strip of land that it’s on belong to the town. Tuesday evening, the town and the property owner exchanged documents, essentially swapping rights to the plots.

In economic development discussions, Ken Black told board members that a local resident has offered to donate a park bench in memory of her late husband. Black suggested the board set a policy with guidelines if they agree to accept such gifts. “Well, the first thing is they would all have to be the same style as everything else there,” said Capitani.

Board members also discussed setting a limit on the number of such donations that could be accepted at Dover Park, but said that further bench donations could be installed along the Valley Trail.

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