By Heather Mullinix
The building and grounds committee approved a request to waive a portion of the ticket fees for a school sports booster group planning a truck and tractor pull at the Cumberland County Community Complex, but the committee cautioned the group it would take action by the full Cumberland County Commission to relieve them of the obligation to return 10 percent of the gate charge to the county.
"This is where we're getting down this slippery slope. We gave away the complex to the St. Jude folks the other day," cautioned Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner. He is involved with the Cumberland County Chess Club, which presents a scholastic chess competition each year and said he would be asking the county to waive the fees they pay to the rent the Community Complex. "I really think we ought to do things to help, certainly, our local kids and local schools system, but again, then we need to change the policy. I don't have a problem in the world being nice to the non-profits in this county, certainly to the school system, but we need to change the policy and not deal with every exception that comes its way."
The policy states the county will not rent the Community Complex for free on Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays.
The Cumberland County High School Tipoff Club raises funds to support the basketball teams at the school, helping to pay for shoes, uniforms, equipment, food and more for players. The club raises funds in a variety of ways throughout the year, including selling signs to local businesses that are displayed in the gym, selling season basketball tickets, holding a pancake breakfast in the fall and a golf tournament in the spring.
"All of our money goes towards the kids," said Travis Clark, treasurer of the booster organization.
This year, with a need identified for an updated weight training facility at the school, the group has organized what it hopes will become an annual event, a truck and tractor pull. The group has agreed to the $400 Community Complex rental fee, but as it will be charging admission of $10 per person, the policy would require the county to receive 10 percent of ticket sales. The group asked the panel to waive that additional fee.
Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, moved to approve the request, supported by Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner.
Lynch said he agreed with Sabine, but added, "We've already set the precedent in my mind. If we're going to do it for one, we've got to consider doing it for all. It can still be done as an exception and require approval of this committee, but we've led ourselves right into the exception business."
Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner, who is not a member of the committee, said, "I see a big difference in what St. Jude is doing. There was no gate charge. There was no ticket charge. There was no money changing hands. This is different. They're charging to make money from the citizens. I think if you sell tickets to make money, then we ought to get a part of it."
Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, said, "There are exceptions in life to everything. While I do believe that we should have a policy and adhere to it, there are going to be times when situations occur that are exceptional. We're doing something for the youth in the county."
The motion was approved with Sabine; Koester; Lynch; David Hassler, 3rd District commissioner; Larry Allen, 6th District commissioner; Roy Turner, 7th District commissioner; and Charlie Seiber, 4th District commissioner; voting in favor. Seiber noted he was voting to send the request to the full commission for consideration. The commission must approve the request, even though the event was scheduled for April 19.
Caroline Knight, 2nd District commissioner, voted against the motion.
If the matter is not approved by the full commission, the group will have to pay the 10 percent fee.
The panel recommended the county help the Fair Park Senior Center with the cost of replacing a grinder pump at the facility, provided the $900 in funding be matched by the city of Crossville and the remainder paid by the center.
Hassler moved to fund $900 for the grinder pump, provided the city matches the amount.
"Give it to them with the understanding they pick up everything from now on," Hassler said.
Turner supported the motion for discussion.
Cost of the grinder pump is $2,800.
The panel questioned the lease agreement the county has with Fair Park Senior Center. The building is owned by the county but was a joint venture in 1998 by the county and city. The center receives federal funds and is host to several federal programs for seniors and offers dozens of activities each day. It leases the building for $1 per year and Fair Park is responsible for repairs, according to the lease.
County Attorney Randal Boston said a grinder pump was not part of the real property, but a "fixture" under Tennessee law. He did not know if the lease specifically addressed maintenance of the grinder pump or if that had even been considered when the lease was developed.
Lynch said, "This has come up before. It's clearly in their lease that they should be picking up these expenses. I don't see why this should be an exception."
The motion was approved with Sabine, Koester, Allen, Hassler and Turner voting in favor. Voting against were Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner; Seiber; Knight; and Lynch.
The panel also learned of a proposed event at the Community Complex Aug. 9, and approved the sale of alcohol at the event, pending a waiver from the Cumberland County Fair Board to allow for use of the complex during that period.
Randall Hopkins proposed a launch party for a hunting show that will begin being aired nationally in 2015 on the Pursuit Channel. He asked the panel for permission to have a beverage partnership that would have beer sales on the grounds of the complex. Hopkins expects 2,500 to 3,000 people to attend, and said he would have the necessary security and insurance in place.
The panel was concerned because the agreement with the fair board gives them control of the complex following the annual Gun and Knife Show to prepare for the annual fair. This year, with the election set Aug. 7, Community Complex Manager Donnie Moody said the board had agreed to allow Hopkins to rent the large building for a few hours that Saturday.
"They [the fair board] will do some prep work, but none of that would interfere with what Randall wants to use," Moody said.
The panel said they would need a written waiver from the fair board, and Turner moved to approve pending that being completed, supported by Knight. The motion was unanimously approved.