Upshur Commission split over splitting up money

Upshur County commissioners were split Thursday over how to split up some money to local fairs and festivals.

After tabling a request last week from the Brooks Hill Community Fair organizers for funding, the commissioners voted 2-1 Thursday to give $500 to help put on the event July 26-27.

Donnie Tenney voted against the $500 appropriation, saying he instead wanted to equally divide the unappropriated $1,000 in the budget among the counties’ fairs and festivals.

“That’s a good thought except you already gave $1,000 to the Upshur County Fair and $4,000 to the Strawberry Festival,” Commissioner Buddy Brady said. “I don’t know how we can justify donating to one fair and not to all of them. If I was the Brooks Hill Fair, I would think we’re not being treated fairly by the commission.”

Tenney contended that the county fair and West Virginia Strawberry Festival make a bigger impact on the local economy than the smaller community events.

“You have to look at the impact to the county in regards to what we give them,” he said.

The county budget contains $40,000, which is divided up for community events and funding civic-minded groups such as Crosslines and Country Roads Transit. The $1,000 that had not been appropriated had been given to the local Literacy Volunteers group in past years.

“The requests are many, and the pot is dwindling,” Commissioner J.C. Raffety said. “We know the next two years are going to be leaner because of the reductions in severance taxes.”

Tenney had earlier considered, instead of funding the community fair, that the money be divided among the county’s 17 community buildings to help offset operations and maintenance issues. That would have amounted to about $58 per building.

Representatives from other community events or buildings have not approached the County Commission in recent months for funding.