Funding Mothers for Daughters event raises concerns in Dover


DOVER -- Even though Selectboard members were wary of approving funding for the annual Mothers For Daughters event after its organizers had failed to produce an application and report on time, they eventually decided to approve the grant.

"The board does not have an obligation to make sure everyone has filled out their paperwork, but they have an obligation to make sure the 1 percent is being used for economic development," said local business owner Adam Levine. "Since the town has shown what a leader does, this is where the town of Dover shines, leads and nurtures those events good for the town. That's where the obligation is."

The Dover Economic Development Department has an events line item in the town's budget that is funded by the local 1 percent option tax. The department receives applications and the Selectboard ultimately has to approve each one.

Organizers were late with applications and reports in the past, which caused the Selectboard to question whether it should provide the requested funding of $7,500 for this year's event. It is a motorcycle ride that began in West Dover in May 2008, which benefits breast and ovarian cancer research. This year, the ride will take place from May 15-17.

The event tends to fill 10 inns in the valley as well as various restaurants and bars, organizers said. Participating inns provide products related to the weekend. There are also group meals and entertainment.

On April 1, the board decided to allow the expenditure after discussion with the public and Carina Thorrson, who owns the Gray Ghost Inn. She was representing Robert O'Keefe, event and business director for Mothers For Daughters Inc.

The deadline for this year's application was missed by O'Keefe, who was hospitalized from October to January. It was due at the end of 2013 but came in at the end of March.

Dover Economic Development Director Ken Black said although it was late to consider funding the event, it would not do much to the cash flow for his department. He reminded board members that the landscape work and Valley Trail upgrades, which are both in the works, will be costly for the town.

The board also discussed the report that is needed to receive the last 25 percent of the funding from last year, which was also late. It did not approve paying that amount, which was $1,875.

"I understand (O'Keefe) did not follow through on the report," said Thorsson. "He wants to express this is a complete volunteer organization. Not a soul gets paid. This is not an excuse. It is clarification ... Believe me. I'll be hand delivering that report this summer."

Former board member Buzzy Buswell pointed out that other event organizers were late with applications and reports in the past.

"It's a little frustrating," said Selectboard member Victoria Capitani. "We changed event funding rules specifically for this event. It's really easy money to get if you follow the rules. If we say 'yes' here, we can never say 'no' again. I'm very concerned about that."

Guidelines previously had stated that events could only receive funding for five years. It was recently changed to have no limit as to how many years the funding would be allowed.

"We changed the event guidelines to make it no limit for those events that are worthy," said Black. "(Mothers For Daughters) was the poster child for the reason for that change."

Capitani mentioned that the board had also approved funding for new events, including the Fiddleheads Festival. At the meeting, the Selectboard also approved the requested $10,000 funding for the Wine and Harvest Festival.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or Follow Chris on Twitter @CMaysReformer.


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