Article Comment 

CVB approves MLK money after heated debate, five motions


Nerissa Young



The chairman of the Columbus-Lowndes Convention and Visitors Bureau board of directors got a new gavel Monday evening. And he needed it. 


George Swales used the gift at least three times to call the meeting back to order when it degenerated into name-calling and accusations among the nine-person board. 


Ironically, the bulk of the fractious meeting dealt with whether and how much to give the Dream 365 committee to conduct the annual January event honoring Martin Luther King Jr., a man who advocated peace and harmony. 


Personal attacks came to the fore as members needed five motions to determine a grant amount for the event. 


Learnard Dickerson, co-coordinator for the event, got caught in the crossfire of a board that is trying to establish fiscal integrity while fighting over past grievances. 


"For the spirit of the community, we'd like to put attention on the event," he said, after the final vote yielded $15,000 for the five-day event. The money will come, he added. 


Dickerson requested $27,500 for Dream 365 and presented a total economic impact analysis that projects the event will bring 5,650 people and $212,325.50 to the city. 


The CVB has sponsored the event at levels of $8,500 in 2008, $12,500 in 2009 and 2010, and $15,000 in 2011, member Harvey Myrick said. 


The request came amid the CVB's efforts to maintain a balanced budget while also revising grant request guidelines. 


"This board's in a pickle," Myrick said, adding that Dickerson's organization is the guinea pig in the process. 


CVB Treasurer Bart Wise called for a conservative approach to the grants during his report. Last year's grant budget was $135,000. This year's budget is $100,000. He added the board has already spent $25,000 of that paying out requests approved during the 2011 fiscal year. 


"We can't print the money," board Vice President Mark Castleberry said. 


Board member Rissa Lawrence moved to give Dream 365 organizers $8,000. 


Wise said, "We have to get back on sound footing. Right now, we do not have enough cash on hand to pay one month's expenses." 


Board member Nadia Dale said it is premature to cut Dream 365 funding without knowing what final revenues may be. 


The motion failed on a 6-3 vote. 


The next motion was to award $15,000 to the event. It failed 6-3. A third motion to approve $18,000 failed by a 5-4 vote. A fourth motion to award $20,000 failed by a 6-3 vote. 


Board member Whirllie Byrd said the votes showed the malice of board members toward the event. 


Swales banged his new gavel for the first time and said Byrd was out of order. 


Castleberry and board member Bernard Buckhalter got into a loud discussion about Byrd's comment. Castleberry said Byrd has called him a racist. Buckhalter shot back that Byrd is entitled to her opinion. 


Swales rapped the gavel a second time and called the meeting back to order. 


Buckhalter said, "I told you this day was coming." He accused some members of doing "whatever you had to do to get (the Link) funded." The $199,000 in the CVB budget dedicated to the Columbus-Lowndes Development Link is hurting the CVB's ability to support community events, he added. 


Wise ticked off several grant requests that had been denied. 


Board member Dewitt Hicks called for a return to civility and said the board needed to find a number to fund Dream 365. 


Upon a fifth motion to award $15,000, the request passed by a 5-3-1 vote. Hicks, Byrd, Dale, Swales and Myrick voted for. Castleberry, Lawrence and Wise voted against. Buckhalter abstained. 


When asked to explain his abstention, Buckhalter told members he thought the amount should be more, but he didn't want to risk it not being funded. 





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Reader Comments

Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/22/2011 4:07:00 PM:

We live in COLUMBUS MISSISSIPPI, yet there are no COLUMBUS DAY celebrations. Heck, we don't even give the kids the day off of school...but MLK, well, not only do they get a celebration and a holiday...they get free MONEY to pay for the event.

Nothing to see here folks, just keep moving along...


Article Comment kj commented at 11/22/2011 4:37:00 PM:



Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/22/2011 6:14:00 PM:

Yes, "they", the folks throwing the MLK celebration...its a pronoun.


Article Comment ml2010 commented at 11/23/2011 12:23:00 PM:

So the folks throwing the celebration get a day off? I am a bit confused by your explanation but nice back tracking. Mississippi is still Mississippi.


Article Comment ml2010 commented at 11/23/2011 12:28:00 PM:

Oh and the fact that such an overtly racist comment is liked by 66% of respondents makes it even better.


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/23/2011 1:05:00 PM:

Of course, cause when you cannot defend the ACTION, attack the PERSON. Funny, a BLACK activist is given more celebration than a WHITE activist...and the person POINTING IT OUT is racist, LOL.

Your double standard is DEAFENING.

But PLEASE keep it up, PLEASE keep playing the silly games, crying racism when you cannot get your way. The youngsters are SEEING this, and people like you are becoming the laughing stock. Eventually you WILL be judged on what you DO, not what color you are, and then people like you will be SOL.


Article Comment ml2010 commented at 11/23/2011 1:36:00 PM:

I just pointed out your "they" comment. Holidays are not only for one ethnic group. You may be celebrating an african american or white americans life on a certain holiday but that does not exclude anyone from the celebration. Black people have a right to celebrate columbus day and white people are more then welcome to celebrate the life of an african american hero as well. You with your comment divided the people of columbus into two groups not me.


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/23/2011 2:57:00 PM:

WHAT comment? I said THEY, using a PRONOUN to not have to RETYPE, "...the people running the MLK celebration". It was NOT racial, it was NOT an insult, it was simply a PRONOUN. But, AS USUAL in this town, they are LOOKING for racist comments. My comment had NOTHING to do with race. It was simply pointing out that the very person who FOUND our county, and our town is NAMED after gets NO recognition on his day, but a group celebrating MLK day gets not ONLY a school holiday and a celebration, but the city FUNDS it as well.

Of course, if you are bound and determined to make it racial, I cannot help it. Of course, that make YOU the racist.


Article Comment mom2five commented at 11/23/2011 3:54:00 PM:

There is nothing stopping anyone from submitting a proposal for a grant for Columbus day, is there? If you were signing petitions, filing paperwork, and showing up for political events and meetings trying to get Columbus day funded and were denied, well, then you'd have an argument.
If you want to change something, then do something about it, don't complain that other people are reaping the rewards of their hard-work.


Article Comment zenreaper commented at 11/23/2011 4:20:00 PM:

@mom2five: My disappointment is that there is such little interest in celebrating the holiday. It is at the general public, not at the CVB board (although their actions in regards to OTHER things, are deplorable).


Article Comment raider commented at 11/23/2011 8:12:00 PM:

I have to back mom2five 100% on this. The Dream 365 folks organized and put in the work to get the MLK celebration going. As mom2five said, there's nothing stopping anyone from organizing (hint) and submitted a proposal to get a Columbus Day grant. It would probably only take an enthusiastic individual (hint) like yourself zenreaper (hint hint)to organize an event. Then your organization can be the "they" some other jealous individual can complain about in the future because you are receiving grant money from the CVB .


Article Comment kj commented at 11/23/2011 10:23:00 PM:

I think a Columbus day festival/celebration/parade/holiday would be great.

As regards pronouns, I think if you look at what your first comment again, zenreaper, it really stands out that "we" live in Columbus and "we" don't even give kids a holiday but "they" get a celebration and a holiday and "they" get free money. "We" would have worked just as well in each of those places, but the way you switched pronouns lends itself to being interpreted in a way you obviously didn't mean. My apologies for assuming otherwise.


Article Comment bob marley commented at 11/25/2011 10:13:00 AM:

I agree,we should give some money to Dream 365 because it is a worthwild event.I can also se why and where the CVB board would have question about where their money is going and actually being spent.Every request is not a racial issue when it comes to funding events for our black community as some people seem to want it to be.I remember a question came up once before about funding Juneteenth with it's african american cultral club connections, as well as it SHOULD HAVE BEEN QUESTION.That money reported paid out verses money received just didn't add up.SOMEBODY forgot to include the FREE BEER THAT LEROY BROOKS GETS EVERY YEAR FOR HIS AND CINDY'S POCKETS.Lets see 150 CASE X24 beers per case thats 3600 cans sold at $3.00 per can =$10,800 on BEER ALONG.I just did't see THOSE figures in THEIR REPORT TO THE CVB BOARD when they went asking for MONEY ??? DREAM 365 IS NOT "LEROY'S FILL OUR POCKETS JUNTEENTH"


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