County disappointed with fund-raising attitude

Staff reporter

It's a matter of honor and respect. Scheduling two big county events in the same weekend spells disaster.

That's the attitude of Marion County Commission Monday when commission members reported that the sponsor of the Marion County Firefighters Association fund-raiser wasn't going to change his plans regarding a concert scheduled at the same time as a major concert for the Florence Labor Day Celebration.

For the past several years, the firefighters have enjoyed the use of Marion County Lake and the lake hall for fund-raising efforts. Events have included games and water activities for families, food, and fireworks in the evening, all taking place the Sunday before Labor Day, this year being Aug. 31.

The Florence Labor Day Celebration, which has been going on for the past 75 years or so, always has had a concert event Sunday evening with both events complimenting each other. In the past, supporters could attend the firefighters fund-raiser and the Florence celebration.

Unfortunately, this year the firefighters association is planning a much larger event with a concert prior to the fireworks celebration, conflicting with a much larger event at the Florence celebration.

Commission chairman Bob Hein and commissioners Randy Dallke and Dan Holub reported they have been contacted by individuals who were concerned about the conflict.

"Both entities (Marion County firefighters and Florence Labor Day committee) have worked hard for their causes," Dallke said. "The Florence Labor Day group is sticking out their necks with a big-name entertainer.

"One group doesn't have as much to lose as the other which is causing hurt feelings."

Florence Fire Department has opted out of the firefighter fund-raiser as a sign of support to its local Labor Day event. Dallke said he will ask the Peabody Fire Department to do the same.

Dallke said Florence has had Labor Day ever since he could remember. Peabody has had Fourth of July. Marion has Old Settlers' Day and Chingawassa Days.

"I've received phone calls asking if I would like to have a conflict like this on my city's weekend," Dallke said. He continued that he stands behind the Florence celebration and is looking for a compromise and unity, not division, because of a concert.

Hein said he asked Hillsboro Fire Department if it had contacted Florence regarding the conflict but Hein had not received a response from HPD.

"I've been told that there is enough support for both events," Hein said, but has doubts if there is.

"The groups need to respect events in other communities. The county needs to pull together and figure out a way to work this out," Dallke said. "The popularity of events go up and down over the years but we need to honor one another."

"I'm really disappointed if the (firefighters) group knew in advance of the conflict and still continued," Holub said. "Instead of having two successful events we're gong to have two failures. There's got to be a way to work this out.

"Everybody's going to lose. Florence is going to lose. The firefighters are going to lose. Marion County is going to lose," Holub said.

At the previous commission meeting, the commission was asked to provide a $1 million liability insurance policy for the firefighters' association for the concert entertainer.

Hein said he was told that the firefighters' association has some funds for the insurance and will meet next week.

The commission asked assistant county clerk Tina Spencer to obtain the cost of an insurance premium. Hein said he would be willing to talk with the county's insurance carrier.

The commission has the final say regarding the use of the county lake area. When the commission approved the use by the firefighters, it was determined at that time that the event included family-oriented events, a barbecue, and fireworks.