Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce lost four members of its Board of Directors and both employees this past week. The six members which included Executive Director Susan Mack, Events Coordinator Sally Adams and board members, Bryce Hall, Karen Grisevich, Cathy Cavendar and Eric Nelson resigned on Wednesday following an open letter to the membership of the Chamber of Commerce.
“It is with deep regret that the undersigned have made the difficult decision to resign from our positions with the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce,” said the email to the entirety of membership. This followed a list of the Chamber of Commerce’s accomplishments in the previous years from growing membership to expanding of various events.
The four members of the Board of Directors who resigned discussed their reasons for leaving. The road to the resignations of many Board of Director members began in December at the board’s meeting that included discussion of the Colonial Beach BikeFest.
Colonial Beach BikeFest is heading into its seventh event in October. According to a spreadsheet released to the membership of the chamber the event has lost nearly $63,000 over the years.
The resigning board members said that President of the Chamber of Commerce, Carey Geddes had discussed with them that there would be no concert on Sunday of this year’s BikeFest to save money and hopefully bring this year’s event into the black.
Then, in January, the board was informed that a band, Confederate Railroad, had been signed to perform, at a cost of $10,000 at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
Questions over lack of approval by the board of BikeFest events as well as issues with the leadership were also brought up by the members that resigned.
“Our primary motivation, as stated in our letter, is our inability to exercise our primary and fiduciary responsibilities to the Chamber Membership,” said a second email to the membership of the Chamber of Commerce. “Despite many attempts to intervene, make suggestions, and request information we were dismissed, demeaned, and ignored.”
Other members of the Chamber of Commerce have come out and questioned the running of the group as the BikeFest costs have come to the light.
On Wednesday, the letter from the six who resigned was released to the public on Facebook.
Several people claimed that the reason for the resignation was solely the hiring of the band Confederate Railroad for the event.
The group, who sang songs such as “Trashy Women” name, and logo, have caused controversy in the past. They were dropped from at least two events due to the use of their name and having the Confederate flag as part of their logo.
According to the former Board of Director members this was not the reason for resignation, but they did have issues with the Chamber of Commerce hiring a band with this kind of controversy behind it as a public entity expected to represent all business owners in Colonial Beach.
The Chamber of Commerce had in a previous year dropped an invitation to David Allan Coe to perform due to racist songs in his catalog of music.
An email was sent to the Colonial Beach Chamber of Commerce asking for their response, but no response was made by press time.