Chamber Revises Funds Request

BLYTHEWOOD (July 28, 2016) – After the Blythewood Chamber of Commerce did not receive a recommendation from the Accommodation Tax Committee last month for a request for $3,000 for salaries for Mike Switzer, the group’s Executive Director, and his assistant to coordinate the upcoming Big Grab event for Blythewood, Switzer and Chamber member Ed Parler brought a revised request for the $3,000 to Mayor J. Michael Ross.

Chamber Board member Ashley Michie subsequently presented the revised request to the full Council Monday evening. That request called for approval of $2,000 the A-Tax Committee had already approved for security and portable restrooms for the event plus the $3,000 that the Committee had rejected for salaries. Michie told Council the Chamber is no longer going to use the $3,000 for salaries, but for social media and other outside advertising for the event.

Ross told Council that Switzer and Parler did submit a revised request to him recently during a round table meeting in his office.

“It was a different version (of the original request) and there would be no salaries,” Ross told Council members.

But in an email to The Voice, Switzer said there would be salaries, but that they would be handled by the Chamber, also indicating that the $3,000 would be used for outside advertising. Switzer did not say what the source of revenue would be for the salaries.

During her presentation, Michie read a statement from Denise Jones, founder of the Big Grab, pointing out that the event brings in more people and more money than any other event during the year. In the past, the A-Tax Committee has approved from $1,000 to $2,000 in funding for the annual event. Michie said the Chamber needs the additional $3,000 this year to assure that the Big Grab has as big a turnout as in past years.

“This is the first year the Chamber has been involved with the Big Grab, and we just want to be sure we do it right this year,” Michie said.

“The Big Grab has been a very successful event year after year and it is something we should support the best we can,” Councilman Malcolm Gordge said.

Councilman Tom Utroska agreed, but said, “It just sounds odd to say, ‘We wanted $3,000 for this but if we can’t have it for this, we want it for that.’ If it quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck.”

Council voted unanimously to approve $2,000 for the Chamber as recommended by the A-Tax Committee, but sent the $3,000 request back to the Committee for further review. Council also approved $1,000 for the Westwood High School Redhawk Invitational, a marching band exhibition to be held Sept. 24, and $2,000 for the All-Star Baseball Tournament that was hosted by the Blythewood Baseball League June 25-30. A request for $10,000 from the Blythewood High School Band Tournament representative was tabled by the A-Tax Committee until it could review the request further.

Decorative Banners and Poles

The Christmas Committee presented a request to Council for the purchase of decorative banners and poles to be displayed year-round in the Town. The Committee provided pricing information for both 10 and 20 banners and also for poles with and without lighting. Council voted unanimously to approve the purchase of 20 banners for $4,500 and 10 decorative poles without lights for $5,950 for a total of $10,450.

Fairfield Electric Company has agreed to install the poles and Town Administrator Gary Parker suggested the funds for the cost of the poles and banners could come from revenue budgeted for Community Promotions.

“I think this will be welcoming and will give a good image to our community,” Ross said.

Butterfly Festival Date Change

Council voted 5-0 to approve changing the date of the Butterfly Festival. Representing Camp Discovery where the festival will be held, Board member Mary Douglas Smith asked permission to move the date of the festival from Labor Day, as planned, to May 20, 2017.

A main reason for moving the date, Smith said, is that the May date would offer a more humane environment for the butterflies to be released.

“Our research has shown that most butterfly releases are held in the spring,” Smith said. “That’s when they will have a better chance to survive the release. Labor Day is not a great time for a release. The butterflies won’t all migrate so they might only live a couple of weeks. Given the heat,” she added, “and their limited flight range, their food sources would be sketchy at best and we want them to survive. We don’t want to set them up for failure.”

Palmetto Citizens Granted License

Council passed unanimously an ordinance granting a license to Palmetto Citizens Federal Credit Union to display its corporate logo on an amphitheater and covered band shell to be constructed at Doko Park.


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