published: Sunday, October 13, 2013
Advisory Board: No change to MLK plans in AP
By PHIL ATTINGER
AVON PARK -- A suggestion to move Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day events back to the Southside neighborhood got turned down Friday by a 3-2 vote.
The Southside CRA Advisory Board also voted 3-2 against a funding request of up to $3,000 so community members could host their own event Jan. 20, 2014.
Advisory board members Arnold Davis and Theresa Whiteside wanted the changes. Davis had submitted the $3,000 request and event application to the Community Redevelopment Agency on behalf of community members and accused other board members of dividing the community.
"There's only three people stopping this thing," Davis said. "Only three, and it's board members."
Whiteside wanted to make another motion, but Friday was a special meeting and the advisory board had to stick to its published agenda, Chairman Gerald Snell said.
Deputy Chairman Kelvin Sheppard said having events downtown could attract more people to the event each year to learn why Dr. King fought and died for civil rights.
However, Highlands NAACP President Aljoe Hinson said he would rather see $3,000 of Southside CRA money go to a Southside event rather than see it go "somewhere else."
Snell said he wanted to hold Davis' request until after a fundraiser on Nov. 1, which is expected to raise $5,000-$6,000 to help pay for MLK Day events.
"If you need to do something to make money, create your own event," Hinson said.
Davis said Snell, Sheppard and advisory board member Eloise Watson were ignoring a "majority" in the audience who didn't want a money-making event, but wanted a family reunion.
Hinson said changes in the last two years have alienated the event's core participants from the last 19 years, especially elderly Southside residents who can't drive but would wait outside their homes to see the parade.
Beatrice Peterson, who organized the event for many years, said CRA funds should help people in the community before anything else.
"Your business is to see who needs houses fixed," Peterson said. "Whatever they need. That is what the CRA money's for, not up here wasting my time talking about a Martin Luther King parade."
"I love you to death, baby," Peterson told Snell, "but your job is as chairman is to see what needs to be done on the Southside."
Several times during Friday's heated discussion, Snell asked audience members not to interrupt speakers or yell comments from the floor. There were several exchanges between him and local resident Johnny Roberts and exchanges also included statements that Sheppard, although a city resident, shouldn't be on the board because he was born in Wauchula.
"I'm so sorry we live in a community that we have so many differences where we can't work together," Sheppard said.
Watson said she saw a lack of communication on both sides.
Roberts also said he was "embarrassed" people were made to throw away food before entering the 2013 event.
Snell said a no outside food rule was unanimously approved by the board out of respect for vendors. Roberts asked if that decision was in the best interest of single mothers.
"I'm only one vote on the board," Snell said.
Resident Willie Gammage said parents could end up spending $100 on food vendors at an event, but churches and volunteers provided free food at past events.
Roberts accused Snell of getting paid for the 2013 event, but Administrative Services Director Maria Sutherland said he wasn't and raised $1,500 on his own.
"No one on the (advisory) board got paid with any CRA dollars," Sutherland said. "Gerald did not get a dime."
Sutherland also said Whiteside provided event T-shirts from her business at cost.
She said the 2013 event would have been only $5,000 had an organizer not brought in entertainment, a football team and referees without getting advisory board approval. She said the board agreed to pay them after the fact.
This year, the CRA hired an event planner for $2,400, Sutherland said, because she is not an event planner and can't take time from other city staff duties.
Southside (by: Blukey - 10/16/2013)
The fact is that the Southside CRA Board should have the Southside at heart, bill up the Southside, support events in the Southside, and bring people to the Southside. All people in Avon Park should know about the History of the so call Southside. Those who were not born here seem to be embarrassed about our Southside Community, which was once an area where people did business, money was kept in the area and people were proud of the area. Now the area businesses are being demolished by the city Code Enforcement, and the SOUTHSIDE CRA has being persuaded to use Southside money to take people down town. Down town CRA is doing a great job bring people to the downtown area. SOUTHSIDE CRA spent 10,000 + of Southside’s money on the event that was not held in the Southside area where the money should go. Would Downtown CRA spend $10,000 for a Sebring Event? No, they are trying hard to bring back what Main Street has loss, which is the same thing the Southside CRA should be during.
Deleon (by: C gunning - 10/15/2013)
It's deleon's fault. He sucks.
Board Members (by: Tonya Marshall - 10/15/2013)
Southside CRA board members have to either live, own property, or own a business in the Southside. Sheppard does live in the Southside, he was just not born here & that seems to be a problem for many in the Southside area. I have had this stated to me also since I was not born & raised here. The fact that many Southside residents want to keep segregation alive & well is very dissappointing to say the least. Especially when those same ones would raise holy hell if they think someone else is trying to segregate a group. It is sad when your own people can be this divisive towards its own. But, we are our own worst enemy.
new council (by: boynamedparkysue - 10/14/2013)
I'll bet a new council member would let the Southside do whatever they want. Southsiders, remember to vote, vote,again. Si
What Would They Say? (by: Blindman~ - 10/14/2013)
What if the "community members" wanted to have the MLK event Downtown and the CRA said no, they should "host their own" event in the Southside?
Southside (by: Blukey - 10/13/2013)
If a board member is a resident they should have a light or water bill in their name to show that they reside in Avon Park Southside area.
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