WDAY.com

WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 23, 2013, 10:33 PM

Grand Forks moves to explicitly allow crash site memorials

Tonight Grand Forks city leaders made moves to help grieving families. A City Committee approved a policy that will allow families to place roadside memorials near the scene of fatal traffic accidents.

Tonight Grand Forks city leaders made moves to help grieving families. A City Committee approved a policy that will allow families to place roadside memorials near the scene of fatal traffic accidents.

This policy stems from a feuding argument involving a grieving family and an individual who simply did not agree with the memorial and took it upon themselves to continually remove it from the intersection. Although this debate was just recently brought to the city's attention it's been going on for quite some time. The families of two teens killed nearly three years ago feel they should be able to put up signs and flowers to remember without someone else removing them.

Churkey Swanke: "It's not grieving, it's not mourning, it's advertising."

Strong opinions turned into an emotional, heated debate at tonight's Service Safety meeting.

Jackie Hoffarth, family member of crash victim: "I find it hard to respect a person who takes down a memorial and does not go through the proper channels."

All three councilmen agreed that installing memorial signs is a positive way for the city to help families in mourning.

Hal Gershman, City Council President: "It's common custom for society to care for families that are grieving."

The roadside memorial on Columbia road for Tasha Brenno and James Freestone have been taken down numerous times. This policy would protect it from tampering but Grand Forks resident Churkey Swanke says he objects to the potential policy, calling roadside memorials a private party shrine on public property."

Swanke: "Society has if not for hundreds of thousands of years set aside an appropriate place for memorials, it's called a cemetery."

Swanke fears that taxpayers dollars will be used in the process. Hal Gershman believes this is an exception.

Hal: "I would hate to get to the point where every single thing like that we're going to send a bill to the family, we're all in this together."

This now moves to City Council on May 6th. We also witnessed an off camera confrontation between Churkey Swanke and the two families, he very angrily exclaimed the area was not properly kept.

Tags: