G-R-A-V-E denied again

Groveport Village Council denied a paranormal group’s new request to present an educational demonstration of their equipment and techniques in Groveport Town Hall.

The request was rejected by a 4-2 vote at council’s Nov. 10 meeting. Opposing the request were council members Shawn Cleary, Donna Drury, Jean Ann Hilbert, and Ed Rarey. Councilmen Ed Dildine and Jim Staebler supported the request.

"I’m confused as to why they turned it down," said Tim Martin, a Groveport resident and founder of the 11-member paranormal research group, known as Ghost Research and Verification Experiment (G-R-A-V-E), in an interview Nov. 11. "It’s (the proposed class) not much different than other classes at Town Hall. The reasons they (council) used to turn down our use of Groveport Cemetery don’t apply to Town Hall."

Background

It is the third time in a month that council has turned down a request by G-R-A-V-E to teach their class.

In October, the group’s original request to hold their class in the Groveport Cemetery was denied because council felt it would be inappropriate to hold such an event in the cemetery. The officials maintained their denial of the request at council’s Oct. 27 meeting.

At that meeting, Martin sought to describe his group and explain what the educational presentation would involve.

"We’re God-fearing and not cultish," said Martin said Oct. 27. "We meet monthly and share personal experiences and discuss ghost hunting. We asked for permission to teach about it. We’re good citizens and wanted to do it legally."

Martin said the class "…could show how our equipment is used and educate people about paranormal research. We would not actually be attempting to ghost hunt. We just want the opportunity to teach the community about paranormal investigation and about the equipment we use."

Martin said the proposed demonstration would involve showing how paranormal researchers use digital voice recorders to record "electric voice phenomena." Also demonstrated would be digital cameras and video infrared cameras, which are used to "pick up things the naked eye can’t see."

Martin said images that are watched for using this equipment are things such as shadows, balls of light, or apparitions. He added the group goes through a thorough debunking process to check for other explanations of their findings.

"We take a scientific approach," said Martin. "We’re not in this to try and convince people. If we find any evidence we put it out there and let people decide for themselves."
 
The new request

Since council made Groveport Cemetery off limits to the paranormal group, its members sought another venue for their class.

At council’s Nov. 10 meeting, Groveport Community Affairs Director Linda Haley informed council that G-R-A-V-E had requested to rent a room at Groveport Town Hall for their class.

"It’s my understanding that they do not intend to conduct a spirit hunt (in Town Hall)," said Haley.
Haley noted G-R-A-V-E has been holding its private club meetings at Town Hall for a few months. She said the group’s request to use a Town Hall room for its class fell under classification of education, which is a classification other groups have used to hold classes in the building. She added that other uses of Town Hall have included arts, crafts, education, travelogues, church groups, community groups, Scout groups, and political groups.

"The only rule we have is that we make sure (room rental) contracts are legally followed," said Haley. "There are no problems if a group is respectful of the building, pays their fee, and takes care of the building."

Council reactions

The majority of council members feel the nature of the class proposed by G-R-A-V-E is inappropriate for the facility.

"I’ve thought of Town Hall as our cultural arts center," said Hilbert. "I’d hate to see us deviate from what the building is meant to be used for."

Cleary feared G-R-A-V-E’s class, if advertised, could bring in large crowds.

"I’m not entirely for this," said Cleary.

(Martin noted on Nov. 11 that the number of people attending the proposed class was going to be limited to 40 and that those participating would have had to register in advance.)

Rarey stated that ghost stories about Town Hall have circulated for years and said, "It seems to me this is why (G-R-A-V-E) wants to be there."

However, Dildine said he could not see a problem with G-R-A-V-E holding its class in Town Hall.
"I don’t have a problem with it," said Dildine. "They’re not actively pursuing ghost hunting. All they want to do is hold a class, which is what a million other people have done (in Town Hall). (Martin) is a member of this community and, whether someone believes in this or not, he has an individual right."

Martin’s response

"I disagree with their (council’s) reasoning," said Martin. "They have their opinions, and I respect that, and I’m not interested in making myself an enemy of Groveport, but, as a taxpayer, I have a right to use the building. I don’t know why it’s not allowed."

Martin commented that, as elected officials, council members are thought to be the "voice of the people." But, he said, in this case, he believes some council members are deciding based on their own personal beliefs rather than taking the entire town into consideration.

Martin said his group has not given up.

"We’ll continue to look for other places (to hold the class)," he said.
 

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