By Reverend Rick Edmund
November 11, 1999
Iím writing in response to the article in the Halcyon about the "bomb threat." I feel that comments were made there that need to be addressed by me in my role as pastor.
The first sentence in the article reports that "the pastor and the board of trustees tried to have me (Chris Parks) arrested." Not true. We were responding to an anonymous (which I donít believe Chris alluded to in the article) quote that was sent through the mail and posted on the church entry during services. After discussion with a member of the trustees, the two of us felt uncertain about the intent of the sender, and thought it best to ask others for opinions about such matters. I contacted our local postmaster and she suggested I call the Sheriffís Department, which I did. A deputy said not to let anyone else handle the paper, and he would be over Monday (this was Friday) to take fingerprints. Both of these individuals were suspicious enough to encourage further investigative action.
I should explain what triggered our suspicions. The quote, which was from John Donne, ends with the words, " never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. The bell referred to is the church bell, which at the time of the author, would toll when someone died. Our concerned was raised because no situation was referenced and no one had signed their name. We felt we could not ignore a reference to death bells tolling for "thee," which seemed to refer to the board of trustees for whom the notice was addressed. Many people had anxious moments over this notice, especially when it was taped (with black tape) to the entryway walls of the church during Sunday Morning services. After a quick consultation with several members of the church, it was decided that I would call the Sheriffís Department and also request that the Maryland State Police be notified.
We were glad to know it was someone like Chris who sent the notice, whom we viewed as not wanting to harm anyone. Upon returning to Rhodes Point, during which time I was not sure what had happened in Ewell, other than knowing the fire siren had gone off and the state police helicopter had landed, I was taken to the church for a meeting of the trustees, a State patrolman, and Chris Parks. We did NOT urge the state trooper to have me arrested. We told the officer to do what he thought was best. The article states that "the only reason I wasnít arrested was because the investigating officer had enough education and sense to see the poem for what it really was." Not true. The officer called his supervisor to explained the situation and read the quote. The supervisor said what we thought might be a threat was too vague to be grounds for arrest. I was relieved because I didnít see how any good purpose would be served by Chris being led away in handcuffs. It is my understanding that the trustees and myself would have wanted to press charges to have Chris arrested, and that was never discussed.
Chrisís second sentence is true Ėthe Maryland State Police did fly here to investigate a threat. But the next two sentences describe that a "letter" had been sent through the mail and that a "letter" had been posted on the church. I donít consider an anonymous quote of an author to b a letter. I think for most of us a letter tells to whom it is addressed and who sent it.
The article states that "it should be clear to everyone in this community that this poem is not a threat to the pastor, the board of trustees or the congregation." That is true now, but it was not then. I shared this notice in church to let everyone know what the notice actually said to eliminate rumors, and several people urged me not to stay in the parsonage alone until this was settled. Although he didnít intend for this to happen, I donít yet think Chris realizes how upset some people were, and I donít believe he apologized in his article for the trouble he caused, although he did say he was sorry at the church meeting on that Sunday.
I donít believe what Chris wrote can be considered an "article," but is more an editorial comment on his point of view of the incident.
I have been here four months now and have started to meet all members of the community Ėboth churchgoers and non. For the most part I have been encouraged of how we help one another no matter where we are on Sunday mornings. One positive point of Chrisís article was to point out some issues that do need to be considered and possibly addressed in our community. It would be good to check that we are "loving our neighbors as ourselves." Chris also felt that some church members shut out those who didnít attend. It may well be that we need to reach out more to the unchurched and give them the opportunity to feel comfortable attending services. The poem Chris quoted should speak to us all as a reminder that when one of the island folks hurts, we all hurt. But the message was lost in the way it was presented.
I think most of us were willing to let the events surrounding this supposed "threat" just go away, but this article in the halcyon (which seem created to serve as a sounding board" just sirs up more animosity. The word "Halcyon" refers to a bird related to the kingfisher, which is supposed to bring calm to the seas. Sometimes we need to be stirred up to bring about change, and Iím hopeful that something positive will come out of what has happened on our Island concerning this supposed "bomb threat."
to Monitor Sonic Booms
|Mr. Millerís first attempt to visit Smith Island on December 27 was thwarted when ice forced the cancellation of the evening run of the Island Belle. Finally, on January 11, Miller and his team were flown to the island by a navy helicopter, which startled a number of residents by landing near the "Straight Stretch" portion of Smith Island Road. With Miller were Richard Gallant, an environmental analyst, Mark Luncher from the baseís environmental office, and Brian Seraile of the public affairs office.|
Mr. Isaac Dize volunteered to have the monitor placed on the electrical pole behind his house. The unit will be installed sometime in the near future. According to Mark Luncher, the Sonic Boom Monitor (SBM) is essentially a pressure transducer that measures and records changes in air pressure. It can be set to trigger at very low-pressure levels, able to detect pressure changes from sounds that would be barely audible. The Navy team will set the trigger level to 1 Ė 2 pounds per square foot initially. A change of six pounds per square foot would be very loud but not loud enough to shatter windows. If they need to, they will be able to change the settings remotely. When the unit is triggered, a cell phone automatically calls the Base Air Operations Center with the data. Miller and his team hope to learn more about the effects of sonic booms by using the sensors. Luncher said that such sound focusing information can help keep sonic events away from the island and other communities.
More units may be placed at Point No Point, Bishops Head, at the Patuxent Naval Air Station and in other locations around the Bay and the Northern Neck of Virginia.
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