Board chairman resigns
BIBLE HILL – Administration employees of the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition (NSPE) have been laid off and the board chairman and another member have resigned.
“I don't know how the operation can operate without someone in charge and paying the bills and payroll,” said outgoing chairman John Douglas in a resignation letter to the board effective Jan. 3.
Douglas also expressed concern in his letter that at the time of the layoffs, there was “no plan by the directors to continue business with any normality.”
Douglas said in his letter, which he forwarded to the Truro Daily News when questioned about the layoffs, that while he does not have the right “to go against the wishes of the commission” and that his personal opinions must be put aside, he nonetheless expressed concern about the way the matter was handled.
"Lastly, I will point out to you that decisions like what you are making against the wishes of a majority of the board are symbolic of past decisions made that has got us in the mess we are in," he quoted board member Raymond Tynes in the resignation letter from a previous email directed to him.
The NSPE has been struggling to deal with a crippling debt load of approximately $1 million, although that amount has been reduced in recent months because of concentrated efforts by management to do so.
The layoffs involved the general manager, the accountant and the office secretary. Two grounds workers, who look after snow removal and racetrack maintenance, are still employed.
Douglas said the practice in recent years has been to reduce the accountant’s role to a part-time position during winter months.
Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor, who is also the municipality’s representative on the board, likewise expressed concern over the sudden layoffs and resignations.
“I don’t understand why,” he said.
Taylor said there had been some “rumblings” of late that some board members wanted to make changes but as of Monday morning he was also seeking clarification on the matter.
“I’m waiting for answers as to who is doing what,” he said, regarding the management of day-to-day affairs. Taylor said a board meeting had been scheduled for Monday evening.
A notice posted on the door of the NSPE administration building simply stated that the office is closed and for anyone with questions to call vice-chairman Cameron MacEachen (who was slated to chair Monday night’s meeting) or Truro Councillor Raymond Tynes, who is the town’s representative on the board.
Calls placed by the Daily News on Monday to MacEachen and Tynes were not returned before deadline.
Roger (MacCallum), in my opinion has done a great job on the (Ex) grounds,” Taylor said, of the general manager. “Some people are disgruntled. I don’t know why. I’ve heard more good comments this year on the exhibition than ever.”
Taylor said a “good profit” of between $60,000 and $80,000 was realized from last summer’s exhibition, compared to previous annual profits of about $20,000.
“We were able to pay all local suppliers up to date,” he said, adding the exhibition made “more profit this year than any other year.”
Taylor said the NSPE was able to pay off local debts of approximately $80,000 to $90,000 under MacCallum’s management while also bringing in bookings to the facility it did not traditionally have.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to get things on track because it’s off track right now,” he said.