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4/11/2013 5:00:00 PM
Council's votes to spend remaining promotion funds

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - The Blythe City Council approved the expenditure of $4,386 from its promotion account to the city's volunteer fire department for its annual fireworks show and $1,000 to the California Women for Agriculture (CWA) for its Farmer's Ball at its April 9 meeting, depleting the account for the current fiscal year. The $20,000 promotional fund was approved by the council during budget negotiations last year. The council had already provided the $2,000 to the Bluegrass Festival, and at their March 12 meeting, more than $6,000 to cover the cost of bands for the Blythe River Blues Festival and over $6,000 for a graffiti-tracking program.

Vice-mayor Sam Patel and Councilman Wayne Cusick voted against the expense, arguing that the CWA Farmer's Ball, which raises money for scholarships, was not what the promotional fund was intended for.

Councilman Joey DeConinck, who fought to stop the funding for the Blues Festival stating that he was against the promotional fund from the beginning, and then, minutes later, voted to approve using the funds money for the Police Department's graffiti tracking program, introduced Ronny Hasler of the fire department and also the new promoter of the Lucas Oil I-10 Speedway, to the podium to make the request for money for the fireworks show and also Speedway promotion.

Hasler said that the fire department was all volunteers and in addition to their volunteer service of putting out fires, the organization also voluntarily held fundraisers to pay for the fireworks show, which costs between $30-$35,000 to put on each year.

"People don't understand how much labor is involved," Hasler told the council.

He said it was hard to ask for money as the group wanted to do it on their own but that tough economy made it difficult. The annual Fourth of July fireworks show is free to the public. Hasler noted that one of its members, Kirk Clayborn, spent many volunteer hours attending classes to get a license to put on the show and that despite the department's attempts to control spending, insurance and other costs rise every year.

Mayor Oscar Galvan said that with city's next fiscal year budget in the works, he wanted a $10,000 line item included for the fire department's fireworks show next year.

"People come from all over and say it's the greatest show they've ever seen," Hasler said.

Hasler then spoke about the I-10 Speedway and his desire for funds to promote the track.

"We have a very unique opportunity with Lucas Oil being the title sponsor," he said. "They are committed to that race track and I don't want to lose that."

Councilman Mike Evans asked Hasler if Lucas Oil needed the money as much as Blythe Fire did and Hasler replied, "no."

CWA President Kathy Stroschein said she heard about the funds available and that the CWA was gearing up for Farmers Ball in a week and half and looking for funding. She said that the Farmer's Ball was the group's major fundraiser, with the proceeds providing scholarships to young men and women going to college and universities.

"We give about five scholarships or more a year," she told the council.

She said the club pays for transportation of younger children on Ag Day and also pays some of the FFA and the 4H clubs entry fees at the fair. Stroschein said that in March 2014, the CWA statewide meeting will be held in Blythe with 80 to 100 people staying two nights and three days in local hotels.

"We could really use a little help that way we could give a little more to our kids for scholarships," she said. "We do a lot to promote the city every year."

DeConinck then proposed that the council give $3,386 to the fire department and $2,000 to CWA.

Vice-mayor Sam Patel said that when the council asked for the promotional fund, which came from the city's transient occupancy tax (TOT), the purpose was to start promotion through different programs. He said that in the past the city worked with the Chamber to publish a magazine used to promote the town, with advertising the primary funding. Due to the recession though, Patel said local businesses and the city had little money to support a new edition. He said he supported giving money to the Blythe Bluegrass Festival, the Blythe River Blues Festival and the graffiti-tracking program because they helped promote the town and bring people in from outside. He also endorsed Galvan's call for a $10,000 budget line item to fund the fireworks show.

"Next year we better prepare to spend more money to promote Blythe," Patel said.

Councilman Wayne Cusick said it has been an interesting year in that council members fought hard to get the $20,000 put in as a line item despite the detractors who were sitting around him saying no. He said that it was interesting the amount of interest in the $20,000 in that there was so little interest in the other $10 million in the city budget. He said that since the council had put the $6,200 on the agenda for the Blythe River Blues Festival at the March meeting, the remaining $14,000 had all of a sudden attracted a lot of attention.

"I don't believe the city should be in the business of paying for scholarships," Cusick said. "That should be left to the service organizations. I don't believe it would be the best use of this money in this account."

DeConinck argued that the council had agreed to pay $6,200 for the six bands for the Blythe River Blues Festival so the CWA was equally deserving of $4,300 to pay for the band they were bringing in for the Farmer's Ball.

Stroschein said that she knew of 14 couples that were coming to the valley just because of the band playing at the Farmer's Ball.

Cusick said that there was a clear distinction in the money spent on bands for the Blues Festival, which he said was similar to the Bluegrass Festival, and paying for a band for a dance.

"Frankly, I don't believe the city should be in the business of funding scholarships," he reiterated. "...These are very discretionary funds that are getting an awful amount of attention. I think there is a better use for these funds."

Evans said that while the CWA was a "very admirable organization, he agreed with Cusick that scholarships were not the reason the fund was created.

Still, he moved that the council give $4,386 goes to fire department and $1,000 for CWA, which was seconded by DeConinck.

Evans said that in cleaning up the town, the council had to start somewhere.

"We have a river here to promote and we're going to be known as a city of festivals," he said. "We're going to put Blythe on the map."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Article comment by: Crazy Town

Thank you Rotarian Member, don't listen to people telling you to shut up. Say it loud, and say it proud. The truth shall set you free. I wish your "guest" followed that principle. Again, thank you.

@Rotarian member, the only people being driven away are the rats, they hate the light. Go sit down somewhere.

Posted: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Article comment by: To @ rotarian member

So do some guest speakers!

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ rotarian member

Real nice way to talk about a guest speaker that was invited there to talk. I am sure there will be people lined up to talk at your meetings with attitudes like yours. I remember when the Rotary Club in blythe had a pretty big wide ranging membership and did multiple functions around town. Tell me how is your membership doing? How many members actually show up to your meetings anymore? Attitudes like yours just drive people away!

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: @ confused with

I lol out when I read the good doc.spoke to the rotary two weeks in a roll.Now Im waiting to see when the doc.will be preaching in Sam's church...Officials in Blythe are to funny..

Posted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013
Article comment by: Rotarian Member

Most Rotarians are able to identify garbage when they hear it.

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: To @Confused with

I wonder how many did not show at the second meeting? Tired of hearing the same of we are right everyone else is wrong. He has said is so many times and we have gotten rid of past Administrations and Board members as he has requested and still the same old thing.....

Posted: Sunday, April 14, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

I guess Councilman Cusik is trying to speed up the death of the Blythe Rotary Club. Why else invite the problem to put on his clown act two,weeks in a row.

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: @Confused with

Good grief! Wayne had The Doctor speak his bilge TWICE to Rotary?? How many Rotarians had diarrhea afterwards? Now we know, for those who didn't know before, where Cusick stands on the hospital issue! And that means The Doctor has yet another puppet in the council besides Dave Lane, the Police Chief, and Joey. Election coming up, folks, start some REAL thinking about people who truly have Blythe's interests at heart, and who doesn't give a rat's patootie about our town. Rotarians need to go to an out of town doctor to get their ears cleaned out!!

Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013
Article comment by: Hands Down dumbest comment ever

Who needs scholarships for education..... Certainly not the least educated community in Riverside County. Get a clue neighbors.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: @just the facts

Hey since you say the Blues Festival and Bluegrass festival bring in so many people. How many people attended the innagural Blues Festival that were not given tickets by the city for free to promote it? Overall attendance was also very poor , but factor in all those free tickets and it doesn't look so good. Wrong genres of music to attract huge crowds and get locals excited. Also they need to find a way to secure actual big name acts that would draw in the crowds we want. Not Tom and the five man band stuff i'm talking names that will draw a crowd from afar.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Confused with

Councilman Wayne Cusick, I agree that scholarships are not for promoting Blythe. But the decision you made recently on inviting the Doc to your two Rotary meetings to talk hospital politics is a not good !!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Mary Jane

As much as i hate to agree with Cusick and Evans, I do believe that they have a valid point. The CWA like any other organization should raise there own funds through out the community not ask the city. And as far as the fireworks show im wondering how has it always been done has the city always kicked in money for it?
And as far as CWA funding for the children to attend ag day that is a half truth because i know for a fact i had to get a donation for my kids school to go.

Posted: Friday, April 12, 2013
Article comment by: Just the Facts

All of these "Facts" being thrown around need proof.

"People come from all over and say it's the greatest show they've ever seen," Hasler said.

Prove it. Ask the hotels if they were booked. Ask local businesses if their revenue increases. Compare the numbers to other summer holidays.

The Blues fest and Bluegrass fest do bring people in. If nothing more, the bands alone spend money.

This line item needs to have research to back up the spending of the money. If there is no increase in local revenue, it's not worth it. Proof is needed or else Blythe will remain as it is now.

Blythe is Beautiful. Logistically it's in a perfect location right off the 10, right next to the river. Spending this money to bring in 14 couples or families into the area, i feel, is not enough "bang for my buck". The promotion needs to be done on a more grand scale. Good luck next year finding ways to spend this money appropriately.

This money needs to be spent based on evidence, not words at a public meeting.

Posted: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Article comment by: Chris Vindhurst

Ronnie Hasler has a good point about the speedway. There is a unique oppurtunity to get revenue by filling hotels with fans and racers and families of racers. Also this would boost sales at local restaruants and stores. Generally there is an event every two weeks in the winter months besides taking time off in December for obvious reasons(Christmas=no money). The series runs all the way until April. It amazing the amount of people that I tell about the speedway and they look at me and say that they did not know we had stock car races at the fairgrounds. The race track also pays the fairgrounds certain monies for lease of the track and a portion of ticket sales. The revenue from that would help ensure we can continue to provide an awesome fair for our families like we had this year. We really have a good thing going with the race track we need to promote it and use it to our advantage as a city.

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