10/23/09 — City to vets: You will have cleanup duty after parade

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City to vets: You will have cleanup duty after parade

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on October 23, 2009 1:46 PM

When a group of local veterans showed up at the Goldsboro Police Department earlier this week to obtain a permit for their annual Veterans Day parade, they were "shocked and appalled" by the response they received.

The Wayne County Veterans and Patriots Coalition could have its parade, officials at the department said, but this year, the group would have to abide by new rules.

It didn't bother Military Order of the Purple Heart Commander Mike Burris when Maj. Mike Hopper informed his comrades that they would have to obtain signatures from each business owner along Center Street before the event would be approved.

But when the officer said local veterans would have to clean up after themselves, the man who once served in Vietnam was insulted.

"That's where I draw the line. Veterans Day is supposed to be a day to honor the people who have fought for this country," Burris said. "So to make us walk up and down the street picking up trash after the parade, to me, it's deplorable."

At a pre-meeting work session June 1, members of the Goldsboro City Council unanimously approved new guidelines regarding closing streets downtown.

The applicant -- no matter what their cause -- must meet a list of criteria that requires them to obtain signatures from all property/business owners located within the street closing area that are directly affected by the request, obtain written documentation from the North Carolina Department of Transportation approving the request if any portion of the request is located on a state-maintained street, contact the city Planning Department to verify street ownership and provide a detailed written description of the events and activities to take place at the location of the street closing.

The applicant must also ensure that alcoholic beverages are contained within private property boundaries, noise is contained as much as possible and the streets and sidewalk areas are cleaned immediately after said event.

Burris called the cleanup requirement "ridiculous."

"Especially when we pay taxes for city employees to do that," he said.

So he went first to City Hall, then to the Police Department, to make sure his comrades hadn't simply misunderstood.

"(Police) Chief (Tim) Bell is sticking to his guns," Burris said. "He said, 'Well, that's the rule.'"

So he and other leaders throughout the veterans community will soon be taking their fight back to City Hall.

In fact, Burris has already requested a meeting with Mayor Al King, but was told he would not be available until early next week.

"I intend to sit down with the mayor and get some answers," Burris said. "This just isn't right. Not for veterans on Veterans Day."