Business owners discuss Festival concerns with commission

August 6, 2013

SCOTTVILLE — Four Scottville business owners attended the city commission meeting Monday afternoon to discuss their concerns about the plans for this year’s Harvest Festival (see related story here). Richard Cox, owner of Cox’s Sales and Service; Kelly Abrahamson, owner of Pizza Barn Plus; Roy and Linda Holden, owners of Holden’s Home Emporium, each discussed their concerns. Each also acknowledged that they are aware that the city commission has nothing to do with organizing the festival, which is overseen and planned by the Ludington and Scottville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Cox asked if money was tight with the chamber then why couldn’t the Main Street program use funds from some of its events.

“It’s a chamber of commerce event,” City Manager Amy Williams said. “Main Street is just holding its own. The money needs to come from the chamber. It’s their event. They aren’t giving money back to the city to cover the costs of our personnel during the festival.” Department of Public Works and police personnel are utilized during the chamber. The festival committee used to reimburse the city for the added expense of using its personnel, but it no longer does.

“I hate to see Scottville die and that’s what’s happening,” Cox said, adding that he does not agree with removing the ox roast from the Harvest Festival schedule. “After all these years to say ‘nope, we aren’t going to have it,’ I think it’s poor communications. I know there aren’t a lot of businesses left in Scottville, but I want to help any way I can. I hate to see something like this go down the tubes. It’s just another piece of dirt on the grave.”

Williams reminded Cox, at that time, that his comments should be directed towards the chamber.

“Maybe we ought to get rid of the chamber and run it (the festival) ourselves. Have Main Street run it,” he said, referring to the Main Street program. “Could we take it back?”

“We could,” Williams said, “But, we only have a month to go.”

“For them to wait until August and come out with this (news about the ox roast being cancelled), what are we supposed to do to plan something like this?”

Cox said he talked to some of the other merchants in town. He said: “a lot of people seemed interested.”

Though a lot were interested, only two other businesses bothered to express those concerns Monday.

“One thing I do not understand,” Roy Holden said, “is why you guys running the city would not know about this? You guys have no clue. I’m not blaming anyone. We’ve been around here for 50 years and I don’t necessarily agree with the Harvest Festival, but I don’t know how the commission doesn’t know about this stuff.”

Williams told Holden that the city is not a member of the chamber. She, as city manager, however, does sit on the chamber board as a non-voting member. She and Main Street Manager Heather Landis are also on the Harvest Festival committee.

She said the Main Street program considered taking back the Harvest Festival a few years ago but realized that it did not have the volunteer or funding base the chamber has. “A lot of the Harvest Festival sponsorships are coming from Ludington businesses,” she said. “We don’t have enough people to run it. It’s truly a chamber event.”

“We’ve got a problem, let’s try to find a solution,” Holden said. “I’m very frustrated by it. This community should be a community. Instead we are just torn apart.”