The decision on whether to have the annual gun show at the Clinton Arena took a couple of unexpected turns last week, with the Kirkland Town Board agreeing to review the issue.
Part of the board’s move to look at breaking the contract with New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Associates president David Petronis, who runs the show, came as about 75 residents crowded into the Town Hall last Wednesday. Town Supervisor Bob Meelan allowed people to address the board for an hour, with most against having the show at the Arena.
It marks the second meeting in March where the board addressed whether to rent the Arena to Petronis as it has done for the past 20 years. A petition has been circulating for several weeks to move the gun show away from the Clinton Central School buildings and fields.
At their previous March meeting, the board heard overwhelmingly favorable comments about keeping the gun show there the first weekend in June. The board voted at that meeting to move ahead with the commitment to host the show as planned.
Their March 28 meeting, however, saw a much different standing room only crowd.
Although the town had seemingly decided the matter in early March, town representatives two days earlier participated in a risk assessment meeting that included Clinton School Superintendent Dr. Steve Grimm, Kirkland Police Department, and the FBI.
Their goal was to come up with a compromise to best soothe apprehensions. From that, based on the concerns in the petition, the show was moved to the first weekend in July when school would not be in session.
That change was expected to be voted on at the town meeting. The night before, at the Clinton Board of Education meeting, Grimm had outlined the third option of moving the date of the gun show to address the concerns put in the petition.
This time, the issues brought before the board were not where and when for the show, but the opinions expressed by Petronis in a blog he writes.
Courtney Gibbons said of Petronis’ blog “Dave’s World” she felt “sick” and “violated” after reading it. Within that blog, Gibbons said, Petronis degrades people of color, homosexuals, and those of other ethnicities. She even sent some 80-plus pages of his writing to the town officials for their perusal.
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