Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Chamber Board Hears About Downtown Effort

The Bradley County Chamber of Commerce Board meet March 12th at Simple Simons for their monthly meeting.  In addition to routine reports, the board was briefed on plans to try to upgrade portions of the downtown Warren Area.  Leah St. John updated the members on efforts by a group that has been formed to work with local merchants to make the stores look better and to make improvements.  Plans are underway to power wash the buildings and sidewalks and to assist the building owners in making repairs to the buildings and awnings in a cost effective manner.  Work will begin on the section of Main from Cypress to Church.  In the future, the group hopes to form a not for profit organization to help promote the business area of downtown. 

According to Mrs. St. John, several volunteers will be helping the committee and providing some labor.  She indicated the group is enthusiastic and excited to make a difference.  Other plans are to repaint the fire hydrants and to make the area more attractive to businesses and customers.

The Chamber Board heard some ongoing concerns about the length of time it is taking to secure  a copy of the final 2017 Tomato Festival Financial report for Chamber Board review.  The members were told a final report would be forthcoming soon.  After a lengthy discussion, the members were informed that the Executive Committee of the Tomato Festival authorized several thousand dollars to be paid to the Chamber for labor and efforts by the Chamber organization to help with the festival.  $2900.00 was also used to repay Warren Forward for money previously borrowed by the festival.   Concerns had arisen when word got out that the festival executive committee was inquiring if there was a way to cut back on expenditures for entertainment for the 2018 festival.  Mike Nichols, a past Festival Chairman, voiced his belief that entertainment should remain a high priority for the festival and stated he knew how much money was remaining from the 2017 festival and he was astonished that a good amount of that money had been paid out after he thought all bills were paid.

According to unofficial statements, the Festival has around $17,000.00 remaining in it's account to begin the 2018 effort.  It has been unofficially reported that the 2017 festival cleared over $27,000.00.  That is the first time in many years the festival ended in the black and is likely the largest profit ever.  It should be remembered that some $5200.00 of the festival funding for 2018 was raised within the past several weeks as a result of the "Trap Shoot" fundraiser.  The point made by those voicing concern is that the festival needs a healthy surplus to begin each new year and the full Chamber Board should be knowledgeable of the financial status of the festival year to year.  All funds are accounted for.  It appears the difference in the original surplus from 2017 and the current balance is primarily due to money paid to the Chamber.

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