Tourism Commission Accountant Kyle Perkins discussion proposed new procedures and controls regarding the spending of the board’s money by outside individuals and groups.
The Corbin Tourism and Convention Commission voted Monday to accelerate completion of a downtown park dedicated to Kentucky Fried Chicken Founder Colonel Harland Sanders by agreeing to fully fund the cost of remaining masonry work.
In a unanimous vote, the board OKÕd an $8,400 bid from local brick mason Ken Bird to finish a job that has only proceeded in stops and starts over the past year.
The park, which is located on a vacant lot at the corner of Monroe and Main Streets, is owned by the Tourism Commission. Planning of the Colonel Sanders Park Project has been overseen by a non-profit organization called Friends of Colonel Sanders.
"That’s on our Main Street and I think it looks terrible," said Alan Onkst, a member of the Tourism Commission.
"It’s our project. I think we can debate all day long the merits of it, but it’s our project. I think it’s a good project. It’s on our Main Street and I’m tired of looking at it half finished down there. I think it’s an eyesore … it’s our property and I think we need to help get it finished."
Corbin City Commissioner Suzie Razmus, a prominent member of Friends of Colonel Sanders and former Chairperson of the Tourism Commission, said she welcomed Monday’s move.
Students from Somerset Community College had been working on the project as a training tool and were doing the work for free. Some of it is completed, but Razmus admitted that they were unable to work on it as often as they would like due to weather, class schedules and distance from the site.
"I agree with you all it is going slower than we had hoped," Razmus said. "I don’t want to disparage Somerset Community College and all the work they have done. I am very appreciative of them."
Board members said they were also thankful at the volunteer work that has already been completed, but decided to go ahead and hire a professional brick mason to keep the project from stalling out.
The central feature of the park will be a large, bronze statue of Colonel Sanders on a pedestal. Razmus said she talked recently with the sculptor selected to complete the statue and reported to the board that the price remained at $49,000.
Originally, Friends of Colonel Sanders agreed to garner enough funds through the sale of memorial bricks, to be laid at the park site, and other items to pay for the statue. The group has raised roughly $19,000, but Razmus said $10,000 was spent on park infrastructure.
Masonry work at the park is expected to be completed in 60 to 90 days.
In other business, the Commission:
¥ Discussed new operating procedures in regards to money granted for events.
Board accountant Kyle Perkins said he discussed with auditors recently the idea of requiring more accountability from individuals, groups and organization that receive funding from the board detailing exactly what that money is used for.
"What we have to remember is that this is a $1.1 million budget which is really overseen by community volunteers," Perkins said.
"From an internal control standpoint … it is basically important to have some checks and balances … Is the public money being spent in a manner consist with its intended purpose?"
Perkins noted that he has tracked board expenditures in recent years, and noticed a trend where individuals and groups were requesting ever-increasing amounts of money from the board for the same events.
"What we are seeing is over the years, as the individual requests are being granted, the number has grown."
Board Chairman Sudhir Patel confirmed the trend.
Perkins said the board has to be careful to manage, but not micromanage when asking for accountability. He said he is working with auditors to come up with an appropriate amount that would trigger more stringent reporting requirements on expenditures.
"There’s no alarm buttons being pushed, we are just trying to be proactive for the commission instead of being reactive."
¥ Approved funding of $2,500 for two Cumberland Valley Cruise In Car Shows to be held on Main Street June 8 and July 13 this year.
Bruce Hodge, a city commissioner and organizer of the cruise-in car shows, initially requested $5,000 and said the money would be used to buy flyers and mailers, a disc jockey and other items for the show.
¥ Approved a contract with Celebration Lighting totaling $26,275 to decorate 187 utility poles with holiday lighting this year. The commission tabled a $19,400 proposal regarding decorative banners for more consideration.
¥ Approved $1,000 to support a gospel concert to be held at The Corbin Arena April 26 from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Rev. John Burkhart, former pastor at St. JohnÕs Episcopal Church, presented the proposal and said a board of 12 people, including himself, have met over the past seven months to plan the event. The concert would feature local gospel musicians and singers. Performers are slated to include: The Believers, Straight Creek, Kentucky Mountain Trio, Josh Teague’s Young Singers, Donna Isaacs, Peggy Inks, Ray Hill, Felix Brock and Harlan Sexton and Bert Griffin.
Burkhart said the money would be used to mail flyers promoting the event to roughly 700 churches. He estimated around 1,300 tickets would be sold.
Burkhart attended last monthÕs meeting and asked the board for $2,000, but upped that request to $2,500 Monday.