Montgomery steps down from running Festival of Trees
by Jason Lowrey
Jan 16, 2013 | 854 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
John Montgomery, who has organized the Euharlee Festival of Trees for the past 10 years, told the Euharlee City Council during its Tuesday night work session he would not be organizing the event again.

Montgomery said he had two leases on the Granary building. One ran out at the beginning of January, he said, while another expires Feb. 1. He said he paid for January and he would vacate the building by Feb. 1.

The festival will continue, though.

“However, we still got the Festival of Trees. I would like to recommend that you all work with a certain lady. I mean, help her out the best you can. Her name is Kathy [Bibbings]. She wants to build it,” Montgomery said.

He cited a lack of funds as his primary reason for not renewing the Granary lease.

“It’s too much. You know, I tried to operate a business out of it ... so that we can have the Festival of Trees. It ain’t worked,” he said. “We don’t have enough traffic in this town to justify having that building. It’s cost me a lot of money over the past 10 years to keep it do to the Festival of Trees. That’s why I’m asking you all to help her out.”

Bibbings said she looked forward to adding other events throughout the year to help fund the festival.

“I’d hate to see it not happen,” she said.

The council also discussed how to run the concession stand at Joe Cowan Park. The council debated whether to lease it to a business or organization, who would be fully responsible for running the stand, or whether the city should hire an individual to act as a manager.

Planning and Zoning Administrator Ron Goss gave the council eight examples on how neighboring counties, Bartow County and Cartersville ran concession stands at their ballfields. He said the ultimate decision came down to whether the city wanted any revenue from the stand to go to an organization or to the city itself.

“Recreation is not a moneymaker for a city. It’s a service you provide the citizens and you hope, if you’re lucky, to break even,” he said. “From what I can tell, the two bigger revenue generators, it sounds like, for recreations departments, are when they have tournaments they lease fields and concessions. So, obviously, if you retained it and it was your product, that’s a revenue source you could depend on.”

In addition to the revenue question, Mayor Kathy Foulk was concerned about liability — as any volunteers or renters would be around hot fryers — and if the volunteers or renters would keep the concession stand in compliance with health and safety standards.

A second topic relating to Joe Cowan Park were the responsibilities of the city’s future recreation director.

The council agreed the recreation director would be responsible for promoting the city’s parks and attempting to draw various tournaments to Euharlee, but they were unsure how many other duties, such as maintenance, the director would be able to take on.

Foulk said she was not looking for answers to concession stand and recreation director questions during the meeting. Instead, she was asking the council to think about both questions so the city would not be rushing to handle the concession stand and hire a recreation director right before Joe Cowan Park opens.

When asked about the park’s opening, Goss said he believed it could be open during the summer. While the wet weather has set construction back by a week, he thought there was a still a chance the contractors could finish by summer. However, that timeframe depended on the weather cooperating as construction continued and the field covering taking root quickly. Otherwise it could be fall by the time the park opens.

An additional Joe Cowan Park item Goss brought before the council was a proposal to expand one of the baseball fields to make it high school-sized.

Goss said such a field could create additional revenue in the form of rental agreements. He cited an agreement between A Perfect Game and Cartersville High School where A Perfect Game paid the school approximately $15,000 to use the baseball field for practices and tournaments.

The change order would cost the city approximately $34,000 to move the field’s fence and install two additional light posts. While the council could not vote on the matter during a work session, Goss said he wanted the council to consider the proposal so he could have an answer early next month. He also believed it would cost more to expand the field once the park was completed rather than when it was under construction.

All funds for the change order would come from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax dollars, Goss added.

Other city council business included:

• Setting a called work session to revise city job descriptions for Tuesday, Jan. 22, at 6 p.m. at city hall.

• Hearing from Euharlee History Museum Director Katie Odom on the museum’s new hours. The museum will now be open Wednesday to Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday 2 to 4 p.m.

• Hearing Goss give an update on the Euharlee Five Forks intersection project. Goss believed the project could start soon and it would last roughly three weeks. The road would be shut down for one to 1 1/2 weeks, he said.

• Hearing council member Steve Worthington recommend Carles Fletcher as chaplain for the Euharlee Police Department. To be state-certified, EPD must have a chaplain on staff, Worthington said.

The Euharlee City Council’s next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 4, at 7 p.m. at city hall.