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Spring Hope board mulls festival woes
Spring Hope Commissioners expressed their desire to keep the Pumpkin Festival alive at their regular meeting on Monday night.

The issue was brought up by Commissioner Nancy Walker at the close of the board’s meeting. Walker questioned whether the board had anything to do with the festival.

“We don’t have no input or anything?” Walker asked.

Last week, it was announced that this year’s Pumpkin Festival, which would be the town’s 42nd festival, would be suspended due to a limited financial number of volunteers and financial support.

In response to Walker’s question, Mayor Buddy Gwaltney said the board didn’t have anything to do with the festival, though the town is in charge of getting streets closed, police protection, garbage collection, water usage and permits.

Gwaltney, who also serves on the Chamber of Commerce and helps with the Pumpkin Festival, said the decision wasn’t easy.

“I do know that the last two years they have posted losses in excess of $5,000,” he said. “You can start cutting things and get that back to where it’s in the black but it’s still between five and eight people who work anywhere between 100 and 200 hours volunteering, 100 to 200 hours during the year trying to do all this.”

“It’s a lot of work,” Gwaltney added.

Walker asked if the Chamber had even put it out there that they were in desperate need of volunteers.

“I didn’t know,” she said.

Mayor Gwaltney said the Chamber has been asking for help for years.

Gwaltney said the issue of the festival being suspended was hopefully just something that would happen this year. Hopefully the festival would be back next year. Commissioner Bill Newkirk, however, said he didn’t want to see it miss this year.

“We don’t want to close that one year,” he said.

One area that has hurt the festival is that the chamber has to pay for police protection, Mayor Gwaltney said.

Town Manager John Holpe disagreed. He said the chamber does not pay the town anything. Holpe said he heard the rumor about the Chamber paying for police protection but said it wasn’t true.

“The Chamber does not pay the town anything for the Pumpkin Festival,” Holpe said. ”The Chamber does not pay for police protection. The town eats all of that overtime itself.”

Holpe said the confusion is because the Chamber went up on vendor fees two years ago. Those fees pay the business license. The vendors pay the Chamber and the Chamber in turn pays the town for its business license.

“They do not pay for police protection,” Holpe said. “They never did since I’ve been here and they don’t now. It’s a pass through. The money comes from the vendors.”

“We don’t bill them and they never did and they don’t pay for any police protection,” Holpe added. “They don’t have no expense to the town. We pay the dag-gone water and sewer bill. We pay for the lights and electricity and we pay for police overtime.”

Commissioners agreed that they should support the Chamber’s decision and work together to make sure the festival does return.

“I think this board should be 100 percent behind it,” Commissioner Clyde Best said. “It has certainly been an asset to the town. I think we should go on record recommending that we keep it and asking that our citizens step forward.”

Commissioner Drew Griffin agreed.

“Our little town here is in bad shape,” Griffin said. “There’s not many businesses here anymore. A lot of houses for sale. The last thing that needs to happen is for the Chamber and Town Board...we need to work together.”

“We sure need to work together, not only about the Pumpkin Festival but about everything,” Griffin added.

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