Targa tiff

Ken Simmons
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For those of you not in the business, a little Communications 101: a news release can have a tone, and you best be darn sure it conveys the impression you want to convey before hitting the send button.

The folks at Targa Newfoundland have had 12 years of message management, overseen by some of the best in the country, so we can be fairly confident the company's release of Feb. 17 presents its case in exactly the manner the Targa principals want.

That is, they're pissed off, and they are done caring who knows about it.


Council insulted by Targa response

What put the normally optimistic folks in the Targa office over the edge was the decision by both Marystown and Burin to deny the group's request for stages in this year's rally, and the three coming years. With plans already well underway, you don't have to strain your imagination to feel the frustration of suddenly needing to fill two days, along with securing a new start-finish point for those days.

"We feel this vote was taken," states the release, "without due consideration or without any consultation with us or with community organizers and businesses in Marystown and surrounding areas of the Burin Peninsula."

There's that tone we've been discussing, class.

The Marystown council did meet with Targa honcho Robert Giannou (whom I couldn't contact before the looming deadline - my apologies) and local volunteer Robert Lymburner in January, a couple of weeks before the decision was made.

As reported by The Southern Gazette, councillors were clear about their concerns then, and top of the list was safety.

That's understandable. No one carries the fantasy that any kind of motorsport is danger-free. It may not be part of the allure for all racers, but you can't deny it's never far from top-of-mind with everyone involved. You don't see too many shirts at the rink with "If it can't kill ya, it ain't a sport" lettered across them.

Still, Targa's record has been exemplary, with many wrecks - nature of the beast - resulting in minimal injury. A factor weighing heavily on the minds of the councillors, to be sure, was the single, terrible incident involving a spectator in nearby Fortune.

But we can be just as sure the opinions offered during door-to-door campaigning - the safety concerns, the complaints about closed roads, questions about the level of adult volunteer involvement - figured in the decision.

Less clear is whether council considered the financial impact Targa has had on the town and its business community in the past 12 years. One would hope they did, especially in light of the fact a similar decision in Clarenville eventually resulted in that town's councillors being wiped from office, and the reinstatement of the area's stages almost immediately thereafter.

It will be interesting to see not only how Targa deals with this latest blow to its event, but whether enough people on the Burin Peninsula believe it is an event worth saving.

And how strongly they make those beliefs felt.

Ken Simmons, The Telegram's new media editor, breathes exhaust and exhales clean, fresh air. Twitter @Ken_Simmons_NL/Tumblr


Organizations: Marystown council, The Telegram

Geographic location: Targa, Marystown, Fortune.But Clarenville

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