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Meeting about Trail Smoke Eaters made ironic by fire alarm

Kari Lee Campbell
By Kari Lee Campbell
October 6th, 2016

The dynamic was largely positive during last night’s Trail Smoke Eater public information session. Nearly 60 local area residents attended the session for clarification on the sale of the Trail Smoke Eaters hockey franchise. The main spokesperson for the board was president Tom Gawryletz.

Just two-and-a-half minutes into the session, the fire alarm sounded and the building was evacuated. The attendees gathered outside of the Memorial Centre and patiently waited for the meeting to reconvene.

At 7:10 p.m., City of Trail staff advised it was safe to re-enter the building and everyone returned to the meeting room to hear what the board had to say.

Gawryletz began the session stating that six weeks ago, John Grisdale, Commissioner of the BC Hockey League, connected the Trail Smoke Eaters Society with a gentleman located in Minnesota inquiring about hockey teams for sale.

“The board commenced talks with the interested buyer and received an offer in writing from him this past weekend,” said Gawryletz. “The board will retain 10 per cent, but will be non-voting and non financial, we will be basically volunteers.

“The club is sitting at about $400,000 in debt and we find that this basically our only way out. The society has secured first right of refusal should the new owner decide to sell,“ he added

The offer is for $600,000 and the Society has not decided what to do with the remaining $200,000 following payment of the debt, according to Gawryletz.

“We have talked about a scholarship, but I’m not quite sure what we are going to do with it yet, we haven’t got that far.”

The new owner agreed to share his identity at tonight’s meeting, explained Gawryletz. The gentleman’s name is Rich Murphy.

“He is in the railroad car business, you might recognize the name, his son is a player on our team, Ryan,” said Gawryletz.

“This is not a father buying the team for his kid, we secured Ryan long before now, and this is not about making money. He has told me when he’s had enough, he will be willing the team to the city (of Trail).

“He is not in it for the money he’s here for the kids and the community,” said Gawryletz, adding Murphy has a tremendous amount of respect for the community and for the city.

“If what he says comes to fruition, he is going to be spending a ton of his own money, he is going to do what we can’t and will be hiring a General manager and someone for the office, so right off the bat, he is creating three or four jobs.”

Former Trail mayor Dieter Bogs attended the meeting and congratulated the board for their years of dedication. He thanked them for the work they have done in an effort to keep the hockey team in the community.

Following Bogs’comments, current mayor Mike Martin took the stage to comment on discussions between the city and the buyer.

“We welcome this opportunity and are really working hard to make this work, everything I have been involved in demonstrates just how exciting it will be for this community to advance in this direction,” Martin said, also thanking the board for taking the initiative and giving Trail the opportunity to do something that will make a difference in the community.

The Trail Smoke Eaters board of directors received a very loud round of applause from the attendees at the conclusion of the meeting. Gawryletz ended the session reminding everyone that there is a game on Wednesday night.

The Trail Smoke Eaters host the Merritt Centennials Wednesday, Oct. 5 at 7 p.m.

Categories: GeneralPoliticsSports

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