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'Torn' A&P panel denies Komen funds

'Torn' A&P panel denies Komen funds

Arkansas-side commission says Race for the Cure group missed deadline

April 19th, 2019 by Karl Richter in Texarkana News

Saying they were torn but feared setting a bad precedent, the Texarkana, Ark., Advertising and Promotion Commission on Thursday denied Race for the Cure thousands of dollars because of a missed deadline.

The Susan G. Komen breast cancer organization missed a March 31 deadline to turn in receipts in order to be reimbursed for $5,000 worth of ads for last October's fundraiser race, said city Finance Director TyRhonda Henderson, who keeps the commission's books. The commission had allocated the money to Komen last summer.

Commissioners Linda Teeters, Sandy Varner and Brandon Cogburn considered reallocating the funds so Komen could be reimbursed, but after some discussion, the matter died for lack of a motion.

They struggled with the decision.

"I'm torn," Varner said. "I'm sorry, I don't think I can get there."

"I'm not sure I can, either. Not this many months later," Teeters said.

"I'm a Race for the Cure fan. I love that they've moved downtown here in Arkansas. But I can't in good conscience vote to suspend the rules for lack of a good system or proper procedure on keeping up with your money and timely filing of those documents.

"If we do it for them, then we have to consider everybody else's, and we're creating our own worst nightmare," Varner said.

Both Varner and Teeters stressed their mandate to run the commission in a more orderly fashion than it has operated in the recent past.

"It seems harsh, but we've tried to right this commission on playing by the rules and doing the same and treating everybody the same, and I hope that people understand that," Varner said, adding that she has served on Komen committees and helped raise millions of dollars for the organization.

"We're trying to take this commission down the path with not a lot of detours and roadblocks, and when we encounter them, we have to treat them all the same," Teeters said.

Henderson said applicants for A&P funding are made aware of all deadlines, including at an informational meeting held prior to the commission's annual fund allocation each October.

"It's stated in the bylaws, and it's also stated in person at that October meeting, for sure. We emphasize that over and over and over again at that October meeting," she said.

Amber Lawrence, Komen's southwest regional director for Arkansas, did not attend the meeting and declined to comment when reached by telephone Thursday.

In other business, the commission heard a request from Townsquare Media to fund the fireworks show at this year's Sparks in the Park Fourth of July celebration.

The company has gotten bids from local pyrotechnicians Big Boom Pyro Inc. of $15,000 for a 15-minute show and $20,000 for a 20-minute show, said Andi Darby, Townsquare senior account executive.

She said the fate of this year's event hinges on finding a funding source and she is pursuing multiple options to raise the money, including seeking a sponsor and asking for an allocation from the Miller County Quorum Court.

"If I don't get the funding, then there will not be a Sparks in the Park," she said.

Local mixed martial arts promoters Peak Fighting also asked for funds to support its planned cage-fighting shows.

Because Commissioner Barbara Miner was absent and a full panel is required to vote on any new funding, the commission tabled both requests. It may call a special meeting to hear them again soon.

The commission also heard from Sells Agency, the Little Rock marketing firm it hired to promote visiting Texarkana and eating at city restaurants.

Agency representatives shared statistics regarding its online and social media marketing efforts during the first quarter of the year.

Commission attorney Josh Potter reported that he is ready to proceed with court filings to attempt to collect delinquent A&P taxes from one hotel and four restaurants on the Arkansas side.

The A&P Commission allocates revenues from the city's 2% restaurant and 3% hotel taxes to support the Arkansas-side tourism and hospitality industry. Its next regular quarterly meeting is scheduled for July.

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