Columbus July 4th festival will occur, committee says

Published 5:59 pm Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Council expresses confusion since no money budgeted
Columbus Town Council expressed some confusion last week over whether its annual Fabulous Fourth celebration will occur this year.
The town did not budget any funding for the festival this year because of budget constraints, but a committee says it is dedicated to raising all the money necessary.
Councilwoman Ernie Kan placed the Fabulous Fourth on the town’s Thursday, Feb. 17 agenda and asked how the town staff could help with planning.
Kan is on a Fabulous Fourth committee that has been working on planning and fundraising for this year’s festival. Kan said the festival will occur this year, regardless of whether enough money is raised to end the festival with fireworks. Kan said the committee has been meeting and a book of minutes is located at town hall for everyone to be updated on what the committee has been doing.
Columbus Town Manager Jonathan Kanipe told council members that he spoke with Zambelli, the firework contractor, which agreed to give the town until April 15 to cancel the fireworks contract for this year. The town previous deadline was the end of January. Council decided last month to ask for an extension in order to get money raised, or at least pledges. So far, pledges and donations total $1,150.
The total cost of fireworks is $9,350, Kanipe said, with half of the total being due April 15 if the town raises enough money.
Some council and staff said they were unsure what, if anything, is going to happen for the festival since no money was budgeted, but Kan said the committee is planning on raising all the funds necessary.
“(The committee) is not asking for the town to spend any money,” said Kan. “We’re asking for staff to help us.”
Councilwoman Margaret Metcalf read the minutes from June 23, 2010 that said the town would eliminate fireworks for next year. The finance officer was explicit in explaining to council there would be no money in the budget for a festival, Metcalf read. Council stated there would still be a festival that would be more community-based, including church booths, old fashioned games and using volunteers.
“I don’t ever remember us ever saying we weren’t going to have the 4th of July,” Metcalf said. “I remember saying we weren’t doing fireworks.”
Town clerk Donna Butler said she assumed there would be no vendors and the largest vendor has made other plans. Kan said there will be vendors and asked council for permission to use the town’s letterhead to send out notices and requests for funding.
Kan said the theme of this year’s festival will be “hometown.” No bands will be paid this year, but the town plans to invite local musicians to attend. The town is still unsure whether  the festival will include rides for children.
Columbus gave the committee permission to use town letterhead and have staff help with typing letters. Kan requested estimates on police pay for closing the streets and public works costs for clean-up such as street sweeping.
Kan said the committee estimates that the festival can be held for about $15,000, including fireworks. The town spent $31,500 on the festival last year.
Anyone interesting in helping with this year’s Fabulous Fourth is urged to contact town hall at 828-894-8236.

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