Fireworks funding request denied

Friday, June 5, 2009

Marshall County's Economic and Community Development Committee has decided the county should help fund a recurring car show and repaving of a ballpark parking lot, but not Independence Day fireworks.

The decisions were reached during a Monday evening meeting in the Courthouse Annex where officials expressed pleasant surprise in the attendance at the first Lewisburg Cruise-In and reluctance to burn money on July 4.

Informally known as the ECD/Tourism Committee, the panel exists to administer money raised from hotel-motel room rent taxes that have decreased. As a result, the amount budgeted for this year - some $105,000 - seems unrealistic for the fiscal year starting July 1. The next 12 months' revenue is "recast at $70,000," according to committee discussion.

"I'd like to revisit these," Celebration Inn owner Millie Miller said of various events that are anticipated as attracting visitors to the county in anticipation of committee spending to help the local economy.

Meanwhile, the Marshall County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the Independence Day celebration at the Lewisburg Recreation Center where the business group's annual fundraiser will include Baby, Little Miss and Mister, and Miss Marshall County events, another "Arts A Poppin" display as well as a ceremony to honor an Outstanding Citizen.

Fireworks are to be shot after the Miss Marshall County Pageant, the Chamber has announced. It is one of a number of organizations that request funding from the county and Rittanne Weaver, the group's executive director was asked to speak about the celebration.

"We did put in for funding like we did last year and we also asked the EDC for $2,000 for fireworks for the whole community to see," said Weaver who was asked if Chad Fox, the chamber board chairman, could be available to elaborate.

Two years ago, July 4th was a Wednesday and the Independence Day celebration was separated by a few days from the pageants and then the city combined honors in Rock Creek Park for three slain servicemen.

Participants in previous chamber-sponsored July 4th activities at the Recreation Center may remember an honor system was used so, for example, grandparents could take children to the Exploration Station playground without paying an entry fee to the city-owned Recreation Center when the pageants were being conducted. The same would be true of a body builder's use of the weight room.

Without a Chamber representative at the ECD Tourism meeting, discussion included speculation until Commissioner Scott Poarch moved to fund the Chamber's $2,000 request for fireworks. The motion failed to receive a second and therefore died.

Another request for funding from the ECD Tourism Committee was presented by Commissioner Mickey King, chairman of the County Commission Budget Committee.

The Cal Ripkin Southeast Regional Baseball Tournament for 9-year-old boys is scheduled to be in Lewisburg during July 22-27 in the Marshall County Youth Park which may be better known for its former name, the Little League Park. The Little League here switched to the Cal Ripkin organization.

State Farm Agent Scot Bush, a leader of the boys' league here, says nearly 20 teams, their coaches, relatives and friends will be coming to Lewisburg for up to six days.

In conjunction with that, King reported that County Highway Superintendent Jerry Williams' budget doesn't have money to pay for resurfacing a tar and chip parking lot at the ball fields, unless he reduces spending on public roads.

While it will attract people here who will presumably spend money in town, the resurfacing will benefit residents who also use the fields for softball, football, soccer and other sports, king said.

Some $12,000 is needed for more oil and chips to be applied to the old lot with $10,000 for oil and $2,000 for chips, King said. The $2,000 will only pay for half the chips, the commissioner said. The Rogers Group will supply the other half as a gift, he said.

Miller moved and Poarch seconded to have the committee fund the request. The vote was unanimous.

In another funding request, County Budget and Accounts Director Freda Terry reported she'd received a $1,000 request from the organizers of the Lewisburg Cruise-In.

Because the group of volunteers has not been chartered and does not have an IRS tax free designation under section 501(c)(3) of the tax law, the county can't fund the request, directly, Terry reported.

She has asked the Tennessee Comptroller's Office if the county could give the $1,000 to the JECDB so it could appropriate the sum to the event organizers.

The committee agreed to support the request at the next Commission meeting if the Comptroller's office responds with a favorable answer.

The next Lewisburg Cruise-In is planed for 5-8 p.m. on June 27 at the Courthouse Square. the event continues on the last Saturday evening of the month into autumn.

With about 150 vehicles on display, the audience at last weekend's car show may have reached 1,000.