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New rules will keep old festival out of Jenkins park

The Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. has learned that using Jenkins City Park for a second festival after the Jenkins Homecoming Days Festival in August will be costly and may not be feasible under an ordinance approved last week during a special meeting of the Jenkins City Council.

The committee is composed primarily of former members of the Jenkins Days Festival Committee which was dissolved by the city council in December. Members of the group recently petitioned the city council to allow them to use the city park for a private festival to be held in September, two weeks after the first-ever Jenkins Homecoming Days festival, which is being sponsored by the city.

City Attorney Randall Tackett presented the city’s position paper and an “Agreement for Use of the City Park by Private Festival Groups” at the June 14 meeting. After hearing Tackett read the city’s position, Ernestine Flint, former chairperson of the Jenkins Days Festival Committee, told the council she felt she had been “railroaded” at the meeting.

The “city’s position” as read included requests that the Jenkins Festival Committee be disbanded, the non-profit corporation be dissolved, and the domain name, jenkinsdaysfestival.com, be returned to the city. It also stated the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. should withdraw its request for city park use and individual members “shall petition to join the city festival committee and be voted on a per-person basis.” All private festival activities shall immediately cease and the city festival committee shall decide which events and vendors it wishes to retain for the city festival.

After Tackett read the position paper, Flint asked if he was suggesting that the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. cease to exist. Tackett replied that Flint was out of order and the city council had to make its own recommendation before others could join in the discussion.

“This is the mayor’s (Jenkins Mayor Charles Dixon) position,” Tackett told the council. “He urges you to vote to support it.”

Council member Carol Anne Litts moved to adopt the position and Rebecca Terrill seconded. Council member Terry Braddock abstained, saying he did not understand the legal implications of the paper, and the vote was four to zero with one abstention.

Terrill suggested that both committees meet to see if there is any way they can work as one group for the Homecoming Days festival. Council member Braddock joined Terrill in the plea for cooperation between the groups.

“All the people in town are our neighbors,” said Braddock. “We have the Jenkins Homecoming Committee. I would like to see others join.”

“I had no idea we were coming to get railroaded,” said Flint. “We didn’t bring an attorney.”

Tackett told Flint that if her committee was not prepared to discuss the city’s position, they could discuss the rental of the city park.

Flint told the council she had not been informed that the city would present a position paper, but was under the impression they had come to discuss renting the city park.

However, Tackett and several council members referred to the June council meeting when Brenda Braddock, council member Braddock’s sister, attended the meeting as a representative of the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. and requested a “meeting of the minds” as well as a discussion of rental fees for park use. Tackett then proceeded to read the agreement for park use by any and all private festival groups, committees or other bodies, which contained the following provisions:

1. Sixty days before the event, the Private Festival Group shall provide a list of its members, addresses, and phone numbers.

2. At all times, the Private Festival Group must announce in all media advertisements and dealings with general public or event participants that the Private Festival Group is not affiliated with or associated in any way with the City nor is the private festival event sanctioned by the City (“the Disclaimer”).

3. The Private Festival Group shall put city disclaimers on any standing web site or letterhead.

4. Pay a bond within thirty days before the event equal to all estimated cost that City might incur in providing City services to the private festival group. City cost will be estimated by the Mayor and shall include EMT service, police, city workers to prepare park such as mowing and post-Festival clean up, all utilities, such as power, water, and sewer for events at the park.

5. The Private Festival group shall not charge the general public any admission fee to the City Park.

6. All booth rents paid to the city.

7. The Private Festival Group will acquire and have in place before any event, a general liability insurance of $1,000,000 per person, and $2,000,000 per occurrence with the city named as co-insured with copy to the City.

8. All members of the Private Festival Group shall sign to be personally liable for the performance of the Private Festival Group promises to the city.

9. The City reserves the right to set opening and closing times.

10. Thirty days prior to the event, the Private Festival Group shall provide the city a list and times of all events planned for the City Park.

11. All events by the Private Festival group shall be confined to the City Park. No other city property shall be used for these purposes.

12. The Private Festival Group shall not block any City streets nor designate any streets as parking.

13. Any violation of these provisions shall result in immediate termination of the Private Festival Group’s privileges in using the City Park.

After Tackett concluded his reading, council member Braddock said he didn’t believe the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. would be able to afford the liability insurance rate. He suggested the city accept a fee of $1,000 to take care of the insurance. Flint then accused the council of trying to price the park out of their range.

“It looks to me like you are trying to make it impossible for us to rent the park,” said Flint.

Flint then referred to several instances where other groups had used the park for their own events, but Tackett replied that the request from the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. was unique, both in its scope of three days and the nature of conducting a festival rather than a gospel sing or a family homecoming. Several council members agreed and pointed to the fact that these other events had only lasted for a few hours rather than for three full days. Flint said the McRoberts Homecoming Committee had offered the use of their site but she wanted to have the festival in Jenkins.

“This is where we live,” said Flint. “It’s for the taxpayers.”

Flint also objected to provision number five which states that food booth rental be turned over to the city. She said the committee wouldn’t have enough money to pay for entertainment. Tackett again told Flint her objections were premature as the council was still in its discussion of the agreement and had not approved it yet. Council member Braddock then moved that the city charge the Jenkins Festival Committee, Inc. a flat fee of $1,000 to rent the city park for three days, including all costs incurred for police protection, EMT, utilities, etc. Braddock’s motion died for lack of a second.

Council member Terrill suggested that perhaps provision number five could be modified to give private festival groups a portion of the food booth rent. Council member Litts said she believes the request from the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. was unique and that no other body was likely to petition the council for a three day event in the city park. Litts asked Flint if there was any room for compromise.

“You all were disbanded,” said Litts. “Why can’t you pitch in and sponsor one festival that is sanctioned by the city?”

“You and I have a personal vendetta,” replied Flint, referring to the fact that both own businesses in Jenkins. Flint owns Tan-a-Rama & Gifts. Litts is the owner of The Flower House.

“Your effect on my business is like dropping a bowling ball in that lake,” said Litts. “We have different clientele. What drives you all to do this?”

Flint said the committee had gone independent after it had received bad publicity last year as a result of discussions the city council had conducted concerning financial differences with the committee.

Council member Terrill again suggested the city allow private festival groups to keep a portion of the revenue for food booths and return the rest to the city. Flint said the committee had just turned over $3,000 to the city from last year’s festival, but Tackett told her that money belonged to the city to begin with. Flint said she had been informed by Community Trust Bank that it was up to her whether to give the money to the city or not.

After further discussion, Terrill moved to allow private groups to keep 50 percent of food booth revenue and Braddock seconded. The motion failed by a three to two vote with Chuck Anderson, Linda Baldwin, and Carol Anne Litts voting no and Braddock and Terrill voting yes. A yes vote would have modified the agreement to allow private festival groups to keep 50 percent of food booth revenue.

Terrill then moved to accept the mayor’s recommendation as read by City Attorney Tackett for use of the city park by private festival groups. Linda Baldwin seconded. The motion passed by a vote of four to zero with Braddock again abstaining. Tackett said he would make copies of the agreement available to all members of the Jenkins Festival Committee Inc. and they would be available at Jenkins City Hall for other interested parties.

“I feel you have tried to make it impossible for us to use the park for a festival,” said Flint. “$1 million insurance. That’s my feeling.”

“We tried to sum this up simply,” replied Rebecca Terrill. “You did a good job (with previous festivals). You did it as part of the city. That’s the way it is and that’s the way it will stay. We’ve tried. If we want to have a festival we need to work together.”

“So any other group has to do the same?” asked Flint.

“If they do a festival that lasts three days and has food booths,” replied Terrill.

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