Mayflower Superintendent John Gray
How long have you lived in Mayflower? I moved to Mayflower in 2007 when I became Superintendent of Schools.
What do you remember about the days surrounding the oil spill? I remember the oil spill occurred after school, thank goodness, just before the Easter weekend. I had no idea at the time the impact it would have on our wonderful, family-based community. The realization did not take effect until the community meeting on the following Saturday night that was conducted by Exxon. At this time the impact started to become clear. The first priority for me was to ensure the safety of our students in relation to the smell of the oil. Exxon started and continued air quality control for all our schools. This helped tremendously on deciding on the safety of bringing students back to school after the weekend.
What was your level of concern about the environmental damage? What about the smell? The smell had the largest effect on the students. Some liked it, some did not care and there were a few that just did not like the smell. On the first day back we had to send a few children home because they did not like the smell. The second day of school onwards there was really no impact on the school students. At no time were any children at risk due to the smell at the schools.
What about the response from officials and from Exxon? Exxon were nothing but helpful and supportive to the district for anything we asked for and many things we did not ask for. They responded to issues before we even realized there was the possibility of one. The best thing they did was provide us with a doctor to help us with the smell issue and the safety of the students.
What has the past year been like around town? How quickly did things get back to normal? It has been busy around town by the impact of the increased population of the workers. It was great for some businesses and not so great for others. I did notice that Exxon tried to support the local businesses financially where they could.
How has your life been affected by this over the past year? One of the largest effects of the oil spill to the general running of the school district was the large impact of the press. I remember spending hours and days dealing with the questions of the press. The press was local as well as long distance. Two that surprised me were Reuters and news agencies from the North East of the Country.
Do you feel confident about the future in Mayflower? Mayflower is an awesome community and a hidden secret to many. The people are excellent, support our school district and each other. It is a very satisfying and rewarding place to live. We have country living with city conveniences. The community has continued to grow in the years I have been here and will continue to grow. I think the shortage of housing is the limiting factor in this area. Mayflower has come out of the oil spill stronger and a united, proud community. It has been hard on the directly affected families but I know our community has been supportive to them.