At their Monday meeting, the Columbus/Lowndes Conventions & Visitors Bureau board finally got it right. They didn’t fund what would have been the third annual Legends concert. Me saying that might come as a surprise to some. Those who know me well know that I’ve always been a big proponent of festivals and concerts in and around the Columbus area. It gives musicians (especially local musicians) the opportunity to show off their craft to the masses. Obviously, I’m a huge lover of music and a lover of the unbelievable talent that originates in this region of the country. That said, the CVB board has an obligation to the taxpayers that pay the extra 2 percent sales tax that funds these type functions. That obligation is to make sure the money generated from that tax is put to the best use for tourism in and around Columbus and Lowndes County.
The first two Legends concerts have not attracted more than 1,500 people in attendance between them. In turn, the CVB provided $25,000 in 2010 and $35,000 in 2011 to a concert that is only a one-day event and probably hasn’t brought many people in from out of town (which would help generate money for hotels, restaurants, convenience stores, etc). Although it’s a fact that the CVB is not out to make money, it is out to give this area the best bang for the buck. If a one-day event is not bringing visitors from out of town to stay in our hotels and spend money in the area for a period of time, that’s not the best bang for the buck.
And the argument by board members Bernard Buckhalter and Whirllie Byrd that the Legends concert idea was conceived by the CVB? Although that’s true, it wasn’t conceived by this particular board. Byrd and Dewitt Hicks (who was not present at Monday’s meeting) were the only original members of the old CVB board when Legends was born. I doubt that particular board would consider continuing funding, either, but that’s just speculation.
And by no means is this any type of knock on the concert, the musicians, the board members of the Legends committee, the volunteers (of which I was proudly one for both concerts) or anyone else. The event itself was successful in terms of providing a local venue for a great concert featuring some local musicians and those on a national level. But in terms of the CVB and its mission, this is not an event that should be funded by this agency.
In comparison Market Street Festival, a two-day event, has been backed up by an extensive survey as bringing 30-40,000 visitors annually to Columbus and generating money locally into the millions of dollars. This year, its funding was reduced to $15,000. And although the CVB board members’ thought process, lately, has been for festivals to eventually stand on their own…the Market Street Festival has proven to be a ‘best bang for the buck’.
In a related matter, I’ve been saying for some time now that CVB board member Bernard Buckhalter has been seen working at the Wendy’s Restaurant in Starkville. In examination of the code ordinance that governs CVB board appointees, it states as follows:
Appointments, terms of members.
The Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau shall consist of nine members who shall be appointed, qualified, and take office within 30 days after passage of the resolution adopting the provisions of this article. The appointments to the bureau shall be as follows:
(a) The city council shall appoint four members of the bureau upon the following terms:
(1) One restaurant member for an initial term of one year. This member and the successors shall be appointed by the city council after being selected from the names submitted by any owner or employee of a restaurant subject to the 2 percent tax.
(2) One member from the Columbus Historic Foundation, Inc., for an initial term of two years. This member and the successor shall be appointed by the city council after being
selected from names submitted by the Columbus Historic Foundation, Inc.
(3) Two at-large members appointed by the city council for an initial term of three years.
Notice (1). That means that the appointee doesn’t have to be a restaurant owner or employee. It means that a restaurant employee or owner must submit a name to the city council…which means that ANYONE can be appointed to the position.
Buckhalter’s term on the CVB board will expire on July 7. He has reapplied for the appointment, as has Glen Baldwin, owner of Cattleman’s Restaurant on Hwy 50. The board appointment can be made at the next city council meeting, which is scheduled for Tuesday, July 3.
Columbus City Council Passes
‘Saggy Pants’ Ordinance on 5-1 Vote
(Councilman Kabir Karriem Opposed)
Tuesday night the Columbus City Council confirmed an ordinance passed during its May 15 council meeting. ‘The ‘Saggy Pants’ ordinance now becomes law.
Originally brought to the council by Columbus citizen Magaret Evans (who was at Tuesday’s council meeting and was very excited at its passing), it’ll be interesting to see how effectively it’ll be enforced when brought before a municipal judge.
Interestingly…Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens changed his vote from the initial passing of the ordinance in May [The ordinance had to lay on the books for 30 days before another vote was taken Tuesday for its final approval. – RW] Ward 5 City Councilman Kabir Karriem voted in opposition both times.