Members of the Clay County Pioneer Association’s Nine Man Board asked for relief of a $570 water bill during Monday night’s meeting of the Henrietta City Council. Aldermen responded by taking no action.
The Nine Man Board first approached the council during the public comments portion of December’s meeting, but the council could not respond because the request was not an agenda item.
Speaking for the CCPA, Jack Pickett, chairman of the Nine Man Board for 2011 Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo, said that in the past the board had used a fire hydrant located at the Pioneer Grounds to wet the arena at no cost. Pickett said the city had allowed the association to use the water for more than 40 years. Several years ago, a meter was placed on the hydrant. Last year, the CCPA was charged for the water for the first time, though it was not realized until after the bill was paid.
The Nine Man Board does pay for any water that flows through a faucet or other plumbing.
Due to exceptional drought, the arena required much more water than in other years, requiring 70,000 gallons. The arena is watered to aid in plowing before use.
Pickett laid out the economic impact the annual event has on Clay County.
“It benefits the whole county, not just in revenue, but in other ways,” said Pickett. “It benefits the City of Henrietta more than any one other part of the county.”
Pickett said that Henrietta was not doing its part in supporting the Pioneer Reunion. When questioned about what other entities give, he said the county owns the Pioneer Grounds and provides rock and maintainers to keep the roads in shape.
Alderman Howard Raeke replied that Henrietta provides three city deputies for the Pioneer Reunion.
“Everybody comes to the city and says, ‘We need money.’ But we don’t have any money,” Raeke shot back.
The CCPA received a $4,000 grant through the city’s hotel-motel tax in 2011. The grant was deserved because the Pioneer Reunion and Rodeo fills more beds at the local motel than any other event, said City Administrator Kelley Bloodworth.
Nine Man Board member Brandon Dunn said the CCPA was first made aware of the grant when he approached the city about using the hydrant and, possibly, water from the city pool last year. There were no stipulations in receiving the grant.
Pickett said the CCPA is a non-profit organization. Bloodworth said that according to state law, water could not be gifted to non-profit organizations.
Two other non-profits in Clay County, the Clay County Senior Citizens’ Center and 1890 Jail Museum and Heritage Center, already have agreement with the city and received the first 10,000 gallons of water used each month at no cost.
The council agreed that those contracts should be reviewed.
Alderman Mike Roberts made a motion that the city and the Nine Man Board settle the bill. The motion died for lack of a second.