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BOC approves late change to
July 4 event pact


By Monroe Roark
Times Correspondent

  The Henry County Board of Commissioners called a special meeting yesterday – without the board’s chairman – and approved an amendment in the agreement with the sponsor of tomorrow’s holiday event at Nash Farm Park.

  The move to lower the Henry County Rodeo Association’s comprehensive general liability insurance requirement was opposed by BOC chairman Tommy Smith, who told the Times Monday morning by phone that he did not call the meeting.

  County ordinance allows four commissioners to jointly call a special meeting without the chairman’s involvement, according to Smith, who had cancelled the board’s July 2 regular meeting and is out of town on vacation all week.

  District 4 Commissioner Reid Bowman, the board’s vice chairman for 2013, presided over the meeting and began by pointing out that the holiday event at Nash Farm Park is not sponsored by the county.

  “There is no county money involved in this event,” said Bowman. “The county is leasing the property to a private sponsor. Any public safety employees or other county employees who may be working at this event are being paid by the private sponsor.”

  The issue in question was a paragraph in the contract approved June 18 that requires the Henry County Rodeo Association to have $4 million in comprehensive general liability insurance to protect against bodily injury and property damage. That is the amount in force for any county-sponsored event held at one of its parks or facilities, according to Smith.

  The chairman stressed Monday that he was opposed to any change in the agreement because of the possible liability from three major components of the event: fireworks, inflatables for use by children, and the sale of alcohol (the county legalized the sale of alcohol for private events at county parks within the past year).

  Smith stated that if something catastrophic were to occur, the county ultimately would be on the hook financially. He said that he was looking out for the taxpayers first and foremost.

  “The board is catering to small interest groups instead of the county taxpayers,” said Smith.

  The motion approved yesterday, made by District 2 Commissioner Brian Preston, requires a $2 million insurance policy to be in place on behalf of the Rodeo Association, as well as $2 million each for the fireworks vendor, the alcohol vendor and the inflatables vendor. The motion passed 4-0 with Bowman not voting.

  Jay Mercer of Strawn Insurance, the agent representing the Rodeo Association, told the board that doubling his client’s insurance to $4 million could be considerably more expensive than just a factor of two and would be difficult for small vendors at public events.

“It could be six or seven times what a $1 million policy would cost,” said Mercer. “If this [$4 million] remains the minimum, all nonprofits with events on county property will see huge expenses that could keep such events from happening.”

  The other item on yesterday’s agenda concerned the upcoming SPLOST referendum. Bowman stated that since the July 16 regular board meeting would likely contain more than 20 items, it was felt that a special called meeting was the best course of action for addressing the project list recently submitted by the SPLOST committee. That meeting was scheduled for Thursday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m.



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