CAMDEN — While the annual Camden Carnival for 2019 was canceled by the Camden Fire/EMS Association, the group will be working with Camden Comeback (previously known as Camden Bicentennial Committee) to plan a different summer event. The Camden Carnival will be coming back in future years, according to officials.
Camden Village Council held a special meeting on Monday, June 17, to discuss the issue.
The Camden Carnival was canceled on Wednesday, June 12. A Facebook post was made by Camden Somers-Township Fire and EMS stating the carnival was to be canceled because of an issue with the Village of Camden and Kissel Bros only bringing five rides to the carnival.
The post stated, “Attention!! Due to the village of Camden fighting us on closing the road down and Kissel Brothers only offering to bring five rides, the department has made the decision to cancel the carnival after 100 years of having our homecoming.”
Council drafted the following letter to the Camden-Somers Township Fire & EMS, “We are contacting you regarding two matters that have caused the Village of Camden great concern. First, the Village has received information that employees of the Camden-Somers Township Fire District have made derogatory statements about the Camden Village Council, its members, and employees on what appears to be a Facebook page operated by the Fire District.
“To the extent this Facebook page is operated by the Fire District, we request that the Fire District cease and desist from permitting employees to post derogatory statements about Village Council and/or Somers Township employees. If the Facebook page is run by an independent entity, we request that the Fire District contact the individual or individuals designated as administrators of the Facebook page and request that they make it clear that the Facebook page is independently run, and is not associated with the Fire District in any official capacity.
“Whether or not the Facebook page is run by an independent entity, we expect the Fire District to promptly and appropriately discipline the employees responsible for the false and defamatory statements posted on the Facebook page.”
To open the meeting, Council member Kelly Doran said he wanted this meeting to be an “opportunity to understand both sides of the situation,” instead of a “blame session.”
Doran added, he was confused as to what entity posts onto Facebook — the fire department, fire board, or fire association. He stated, he believed it was an official site, but it was fire department members posting, not the fire board. He noted, an official site cannot be posting derogatory comments about village council.
Council members Judy Michael and Toni Keesler added, this one post on Camden Somers-Township Fire and EMS Facebook page had many comments from the public insulting council and inciting violence against them.
“If there was a problem, someone should have got a hold of the Mayor, one of the council people, or Rusty [Wilson]. We would have solved that,” Doran said. “If you look back at the meeting a year ago, when [the Fire Department] asked to use [State Route] 725, we gave you permission.”
According to Fire Chief Gary Taylor, they did not have an issue getting permission from the village to use Ohio 725. They had permission to use the road, but the issue with the village was the actual detour. They had a permit to close the road, but when they put their blockades up on Tuesday, village staff tore them down.
Taylor added, they were going to detour traffic into the village, but village staff told the department they couldn’t detour commercial vehicles into the village. A decision had to be made whether or not to cancel the carnival and Taylor was concerned commercial vehicles could be ticketed after he detoured them, which would make him liable.
Doran countered, there was a tanker lost in the village due to the detours. That causes a liability for the Village of Camden, he explained.
Taylor added, the decision to cancel was not made until he was notified Kissel Bros was only going to bring five rides. The association was also not under contract with Kissel Bros.
“We depend on you guys. We want you to be happy — we want you to be happy with us. We want to have more conversations with you guys,” Doran said.
He added, the village might even be interested in helping to plan the Camden Carnival. It wants to work together and be involved. Doran added, everybody wants the Camden Carnival to come back.
After discussions, it was decided that Ohio 725 would be a last resort for the carnival in the future, but the fire association would look at different locations and different ride companies with whom to contract. The plan is to bring back the Camden Carnival for 2020.
Camden Comeback representatives offered to help pay for an event for this summer, in place of the Camden Carnival. The committee will be planning an event for the community, with bounce houses and a movie night discussed.
The fire department, fire association, fire board, Camden Comeback, and Camden Village Council all agreed to work together moving forward to help make the Village of Camden a “great place“ for all who reside within its borders.
Reach Kelsey Kimbler at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @KKimbler_RH