Augusta Mayor Responds To Red Barn Owner Saying She Was Fined $200 For Fundraiser
A two minute Facebook Video posted Friday night by the owner of the Red Barn has gone viral after the popular Augusta restaurant's owner, Laura Benedict, lashed out at the mayor and city officials in Augusta and said she was fined $200 for a fundraiser she had for veterans and the Honor Flight Maine.
But according to Central Maine, the event that violated city code was a different event. It was a show by the Veayo Twins Trio with the Honor Flight event being held five days later on July 11, 2016.
Later Friday night, The Red Barn posted on their facebook page:
It had been called to my attention that the date on the consent decree was NOT the exact day of the Honor Flight benefit...it was several days later. I was so outraged when I got the decree that I couldn't speak. There is the very real issue that being fined for a violation after over a year is ridiculous. I was so protective of my Veterans that I lost my head. I am still outraged and wish it could be easier to conduct business and give so much to those that need us. I humbly apologize for the oversight and would still like things to change. Love, Laura
Augusta mayor Dave Rollins said he was blindsided by the Red Barn facebook video and posted this response on his Facebook page Saturday morning:
And now for the rest of the story...I spoke with our Director of Development Services, Matt Nazar, the person that oversees code enforcement, he said a fine has not yet been levied. Also, he admits he sat on the offense from 2016, however, when again last month there was another instance of not getting a mass gathering permit he felt he had to act. A consent agreement was sent to Laura in hopes of a conversation and agreement to settle the issue and a $200 fine was purposed. Instead of responding to the purposed agreement Laura, who admitted she didn't read it, assumed it was about the Honor Flight event and post the video we have all seen. This is a classic example of how important civil discourse is in the way we conduct our business. If cooler heads prevailed and a conversation was had this all would have been prevented, I am sure. At this point, after being totally blindsided by the video, looking into the facts, and sleeping on it, I would say this has been a big mis-understanding. A) It has nothing to do with supporting veterans, or Honor Flight fund raising event, and B) At this point no fine has been levied. I again ask, lets keep our cool and work this out. We all love the Red Barn and are proud of all the good work they have done, for veterans, those in medical need, schools, and so much more. I will meet with City Manager Bill Bridgeo on Monday and we will put together a plan of action. Remember, we all must obey the laws and ordinances, and when neighbors complain someone is going to investigate to address the issue(s). Everyone relax, have a great weekend, go for a swim and if your hungry, go to the Red Barn...tell them the Mayor sent you!
I love the last sentence. Let's go to the Red Barn and have a fun weekend!