Marshall Tourism Commission considers grant requests
In its nearly four-year history, the Marshall Tourism Commission has not often found itself in the position of having more money than needed to fill all its grant requests.
Last year was a good year for tourism tax collections -- thanks in large part to the influx of workers for the ConAgra expansion project -- and the receipts topped requests by about $30,000.
But the commission remained somewhat cautious, spending two hours discussing grant requests Wednesday, Feb. 11, trimming awards for several projects, denying funding to several others.
One reason for the conservative approach was the commission's sense that 2008 was something of an anomaly. The group expects 2009 to be a much tougher year.
Chairman Lee Bearden's refrain throughout the meeting summed up the commission's approach.
"We need to keep a little for next year so we don't have to cut everyone so much. We don't want to cut things that are working well," he said. "Next year I bet we don't have the collections we have this year."
Bearden also noted that the commission is not required to spend all the money it collects in a given year and has in the past kept some money in reserve for emergency uses or to carry over to the following year.
The top award went, as usual, to the Marshall Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee, which uses its grant not only to pay for its own tourism activities but also to fund the work of affiliate organizations.
The total grant request for the chamber committee was $81,370.
When the dust had settled, the commission committed to awarding about $72,000 of that after reducing several grant amounts and tabling two items.
The chamber itself gets $21,500, but $4,500 of that had already been dispersed for projects that were time-sensitive.
A number of projects received all the money they asked for, including the Missouri State Corn Husking Association, $2,900; Pennytown Reunion, $1,000; Saline County Farm Toy Show, $1,000; Marshall Parks and Recreation Department, $3,550; and Marshall Bow Hunters Club, $1,800.
Several projects received reduced amounts, including the Bear Creek Blues Festival, $2,600 (down from $3,000 requested); Friends of Arrow Rock, $2,000 (down from $5,100 requested); and Country Patchwork Quilt Guild, $5,000 (down from $6,660 requested).
Two $1,000 requests, one from the Show-Me Water Garden Club and one from Marshall-Saline Development Corporation, were denied.
The water garden club's annual tour, for which the money would have been used, reportedly has been canceled for this year. There was no discussion about the MSDC request during the meeting.
Requests from the Marshall Public Library Foundation for a craft show and Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog for Web site updating were tabled until more information is available about them.
The commission also dealt with several requests that came in separately from the chamber Tourism Committee's request.
Two received funding, including a request from Salt Fork YMCA for $4,295 to pay for "tumble track," a piece of portable gymnastics equipment to use at at YMCA gymnastics meet and a request from the Saline County Fair Association for $1,900 to install tiling in the lower arena, seen as necessary in order to continue hosting the Missouri Valley College Viking Stampede rodeo at the fairground every year.
Requests from Missouri Valley Community Action Agency to help publicize a poverty summit and Friends of Jim the Wonder Dog for signs directing visitors to the Jim the Wonder Dog Memorial Garden were denied.