A letter to McMinnville officials requesting permission to hold a benefit concert on the empty lot on Court Square has raised some concerns.
This fundraiser is slated for Aug. 15 and would benefit the family of Allison Cutrell, 17, who was involved in a four-wheeler accident and airlifted to Erlanger. Her remaining medical expenses are $15,000.
Event organizers requested the city waive the rental cost of The Lot, as well as provide a stage for the event, close the street on the south side of Court Square from 4 to 10 p.m., and allow access to electrical outlets on The Lot and around the fountain.
Fundraisers to help families pay medical bills are a regular occurrence. However, Alderman Everett Brock is concerned that once the city provides these items to one family, it would have to provide them, if requested, to all families.
“I’m sympathetic to these people, but they are asking an awful lot and we’re setting a dangerous precedent here,” said Brock. “If they had just asked for The Lot and not blocking off the street and setting up the stage, I would be a lot more amenable to it. This concerns me. It really does.”
The stage, stored at the Civic Center, takes approximately four hours for city employees to put up and take down. It would have to be placed Friday and taken down Monday in order to prevent paying employees overtime. Likewise, closing off the street requires city employees to place blockades before the event and take them down after.
Ken Youngblood, one of the event organizers, says they can manage without a stage.
“We are trying to raise what we can to help them out,” said Youngblood. “We could manage without a stage if we need to. Power would be about the only thing we would have to have to run sound and that kind of stuff.”
Vice Mayor Ben Newman made a motion to provide everything requested except the stage. The motion received a second.
Alderman Steve Harvey asked of Youngblood, “Do you have access to another stage?”
“No, we would have to set everything on the ground,” said Youngblood.
Harvey added, “Well, that isn’t good.”
City administrator Bill Brock asked Youngblood if closing only the section of street in front of The Lot and leaving the section of street in front of Chamber of Commerce open would be acceptable because closing off that entire section creates a problem for traffic, to which Youngblood said it would be.
Harvey made a motion to amend Newman’s motion and allow use of the stage and only close the street in front of The Lot.
“I guess I see the concern about us having to do this a lot more often,” said Harvey. “If we are going to be OK with this, I don’t see the problem in letting them use the stage.”
When Alderman Jimmy Bonner voiced the same concerns as Brock, that the city would be putting itself in a situation where it had to allow the same consideration to anyone wishing to hold a similar fundraiser to pay medical expenses, Harvey added, “It does, but we don’t have to do it. They’ve been trying to put this together for a long time. There are a lot of people involved and it’s going to be professionally done. This is just not a fly-by-night thing.”
Harvey’s motion passed 4-3. Mayor Jimmy Haley and Aldermen Mike Neal, Ryle Chastain and Harvey voted in favor of Harvey’s amendment to include the stage and close the street in front of The Lot. Bonner, Brock and Vice Mayor Ben Newman voted against it.
“That gets us back to the original motion with the amendment,” said Haley.
The board voted 6-1 to provide event organizers with everything requested, except closing the section of road in front of the Chamber. Chastain voted against it.