They say things are always darkest before the dawn, and while things are looking dark to Durbin Town Council, the members and community leaders are looking forward to the dawn.
At the town council meeting March 10, councilmembers were informed the town finances are in bad shape, but with the help of Rick Barkley, new treasurer Donald Peck is making adjustments and fixing the errors made by the former treasurer.
Barkley gave council-members a new report of the most recent general fund activity and explained that the sewer fund is still “under construction.”
“These are pretty well correct,” he said. “I’ve still got a lot of editing to do. On the sewer side, I didn’t even print it out. It is a mess, yet. It’s probably twenty pages long. As far as money missing or anything like that – best I could see – no money was taken out of those accounts inappropriately. There was no embezzlement. There was just money that was spent that shouldn’t have been spent, probably.”
When council moved on to discuss damage caused by the recent storm, the financial situation came into play. The Bingo pavilion suffered the most damage, leading council to determine if it should pay for repairs or if the Durbin Library should.
Proceeds from Bingo during the week of Durbin Days Heritage Festival go to the library building fund and is used by the library more than the town, councilmember Mike Vance said.
Library representative Judy Fuller told council she looked into repairing the pavilion but needed to know what council was planning to do. She asked council if the library could borrow the large canopy owned by council to replace the pavilion.
“We’re just looking for something temporary right now and the suggestion was that we either buy the new supports and use the metal that’s still over there, or we just use the tent,” Fuller said.
The canopy is used to provide shelter over picnic tables used during the festival.
“The tent was bought for the field to keep people in the field,” Vance said. “I’m not saying nothing against the Bingo, but we’ve got to keep the crowd in the field. If we don’t, we’re not going to make any money.”
Newly appointed councilmember Mark Smith referred to the financial situation and said it is important for the town to pinch pennies.
“Durbin Town Council is presiding over a business that is in the red and we’re going to take this money and give it to the library?” he asked. “Why should we as [council] invest more money to give money away?”
Mayor Danielle Findley said the pavilion is used by the town during Durbin Days and the town should help by lending out the canopy.
“That’s why we were trying to not have an expense for a permanent structure, which makes sense to me,” she said.
Council closed the discussion and tabled the pavilion situation until the town’s finances are healthier.
On the sunnier side of things, Fuller gave a report from the Durbin Days Heritage Festival Committee, saying the organization is adding some new and bringing back some old events to make the week a bigger celebration.
“We’re trying to help everything improve the ways they make money in everything that is going on in Durbin Days,” she said.
“Jerry [Nelson] is working on the pig race and mutton busting for Wednesday evening, and sheep dressing. We’re working extensively with the carnival. Shelia [Varner] is working on a craft show over in Station 2 parking lot Friday and Saturday.”
Fuller said Cynthia Gurerri and the Pocahontas County Arts Council plan to have artwork on display and for sale at the art center in town.
“We’re also working on a bow shoot,” Fuller continued. “The 5K run is getting started again. We’ll continue to do all the things that are on the schedule of events from last year. We talked about the music and getting all that lined up. We’re talking about adding log loading Saturday morning and the other big thing is the car show. We have Dave Rexrode and Jimmy Findley working very hard on that.”
Fuller added that the committee suggested council hire Donald Peck as festival coordinator. Peck has coordinator DDHF for several years and said at the last council meeting he would do the job for $500.
Before council was able to vote on the coordinator position, Peck interrupted and said he would not be coordinator.
“Just letting you know right now, I will not do it this year,” he said. “You’ll have to find you a coordinator. I ain’t getting into it. I ain’t going to do it.”
Fuller apologized to Peck, telling him if she said anything to upset him, she was sorry.
After some prodding, Peck said, “I’ve did it for years and years. I was over in that field setting it up and people over here on the street were hollering at me, ‘get the job done’ – wasn’t a soul came over to help me. Somebody has got to step in there and learn all this. They’ve got to know.”
Fuller and Findley said they would take the issue back to the committee and see if anyone is interested in being coordinator.
Durbin Town Council meets the second Tuesday each month at 7 p.m. at the town hall.