March 18, 2013 9:55:03 AM
Carmen K. Sisson - [email protected]
Festival grants will again be a topic of discussion at tonight's Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board meeting.
The festival grants committee met last week and is expected to recommend that the board make no changes at this time, executive director Nancy Carpenter said Sunday afternoon.
The board had considered raising the funding of quality of life events from $8,000 to $12,000 and removing the tourism grant restriction that puts a 25-percent cap on the amount used for entertainment.
But if any changes are made, the grants committee is recommending they apply to Fiscal Year 2014, Carpenter said.
Juneteenth festival organizers are slated to return to the board to ask for a $8,000 quality of life grant for the annual event, which commemorates June 19, 1865, when Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston, Texas to announce the Civil War had ended and slaves were free, two months after the war had ended.
The CVB awarded a $15,000 tourism grant for Juneteenth in December 2012, but festival organizer Leroy Brooks turned the money down, saying the 25-percent entertainment cap rendered the money useless for the event.
If the board approves the $8,000 quality of life grant for Juneteenth, all of the money can go toward entertainment. Cindy Lawrence will speak on behalf of the event committee.
The CVB board will also discuss the city's ongoing beautification project. The CVB currently gives $40,000 per year to the beautification committee, but that money has traditionally been earmarked solely for downtown beautification, Carpenter said.
But the board, along with the Lowndes County Board of Supervisors and Columbus City Council, voted recently to allow the money to be used in other areas of the city.
The beautification committee intends to spend a portion of the money on a welcome sign in North Columbus at the intersection of Highways 50 and 373.
A welcome sign was placed last year on Highway 82, approaching the city limits from Starkville, and another is slated for Highway 82, headed toward the Mississippi-Alabama state line.
The signs were recommended by a charrette team that visited Columbus in 2009.
Other items topping the CVB agenda tonight include an update on a $2 million upgrade to the Trotter Convention Center and a presentation by Bobby King and Carolyn Perkins of the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area, with which the CVB partners. The duo will show a DVD featuring Columbus.
Carmen K. Sisson is the former news editor at The Dispatch.