By Gary Nelson
Senior staff writer
Last month the county's building and grounds committee agreed to match up to $3,500 in funding with the city of Crossville to have doors replaced at the Fair Park Senior Center; however a request to have fees waived for the use of the county's Community Complex failed.
Peggy Houston, executive director of the Fair Park Senior Center, attended the meeting and requested the funds in order to replace doors at the Fair Park building on Livingston Rd. across from the Cumberland County Community Complex.
The building is owned by the county, but was a joint venture in 1998 by the county and city of Crossville.
"We had businesses and sponsors from all over the county that came together to support the seniors and chipped in to build this facility," Houston said.
Houston explained that Fair Park receives federal funds and is host to several federal programs for seniors and offers dozens of daily programs for senior citizens.
"We provided service for more than 5,500 people in the county this past year and have around 100 people a day take part in our programs," Houston said. "The funding we receive and the funds we make from our fundraisers go right back into the center to fund our programs."
"I didn't even know the county owned this building," 9th District Commissioner Carmin Lynch said.
Fair Park leases the building from the county on a lease at a rate of $1 per year and Fair Park is responsible for repairs, according to the lease.
Fair Park receives $25,000 from the city of Crossville and $25,000 from the county annually for funding.
"We don't come to you for money all the time other than our annual amount," Houston said.
"So has this gone before your board?" Lynch asked.
"Yes, we thought that with all we do for the county and with all the programs we have for seniors in our community that you could help us with this," Houston said.
"Have you approached the city with this?" Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner, asked.
"No, but we are going to," Houston said.
Houston said that county building maintenance supervisor Steve Lewis estimated the cost to be $7,000 to replace the doors because the frames needed to be replaced as well and they are built into the concrete and brick wall.
Joe Koester, 5th District commissioner, moved to match up to $3,500, half of the cost to replace the doors, with the city of Crossville funding the other half. Dave Hassler, 3rd District commissioner, supported the motion and it was unanimously approved.
Houston also requested the committee waive the fee the Community Complex rental for Pioneer Day on the Mountain, which is put on by the Fair Park Senior Center and serves as its main fundraiser.
"We have been doing this event for 29 years at no cost for rental and this year we were told we'll have to pay," Houston said.
Donnie Moody, Cumberland County Community Complex manager, said the fee, according to the county's fee structure, would be $1,050 for the facility and 10 percent of the gate above $2,000.
The county changed its fee structure last year and added the policy that it would no longer give the Complex out for free for weekend events because it was losing so many bookings from paying customers because it had nonprofit events booked for free.
"If you do it for one, then you'll have to do for everyone," said 3rd District commissioner Johnny Prsley.
"I don't think it makes sense to charge them. They're raising money to not have to come to the county and ask for more money," said Sonya Rimmer, 8th District commissioner and building and grounds committee chairperson.
"I don't think I can support it," Charles Seiber, 4th District commissioner, said.
"I see it as a donation in my eyes," Larry Allen, 6th District commissioner said.
"Well, it's not only the loss of $1,000, but it's the loss of revenue of booking the facility and you're opening the door for all the nonprofits then," Mike Harvel, 7th District commissioner, said.
Commissioner Sabine, who has been involved with Chess Club tournaments for years, said the Chess Club was one nonprofit agency that was now going to have to pay for renting the facility, as well.
"I do support letting Fair Park use the facility," Sabine said.
Hassler then made a motion to make an exception and let Fair Park use the Community Complex for Pioneer Day as they have the past 29 years.
Koester supported the motion, but it failed in a 3-3 tie vote.
Voting in favor were Sabine, Hassler and Koester.
Voting against the motion were Seiber, Allen and Lynch.
Rimmer did not vote, but if she did support the motion it still would have failed because, according to the county rules, it takes five votes to pass a motion.
Roy Turner, 7th District commissioner, did not attend the meeting.
Last week, Hassler brought the subject up again and made a new motion to allow Fair Park to have the event without paying the fee, but charging them the 10 percent of the gate over $2,000.
No one supported Hassler's motion and it died from lack of a second.
"I just think it's silly that we (county) give them money and then we're going to turn around and charge them," Hassler said.
Nancy Hyder, 2nd District commissioner, said she thought the county ought to look at grandfathering Fair Park into using the facility for the one weekend of Pioneer Day.
"It's one of the biggest fundraisers they have and they raise money for the activities they have over there at the center. The county asked them to have that," Hyder said.
At last month's meeting, Houston said she was unsure if Fair Park would be able to afford holding the annual event.