Multi-Cultural Festival seeking more funds

PARKERSBURG – Wood County commissioners heard a funding request from the Multi-Cultural Festival, opened bids for bullet-proof vests for the sheriff’s department and forwarded a grant application for the victim’s advocate.

Tony Brown, treasurer for the Multi-Cultural Festival, told commissioners the group is moving more toward seeking sponsorships rather than relying so much on grants.

“But we continue to worry about our sources of funding, and we have made an effort to diversify sources of income, but it continues to be a struggle,” Brown said.

“You are one of the only festivals that doesn’t charge an entry fee and most don’t need to ask for funding,” said Commissioner Steve Gainer.

Brown said the festival’s primary goal is education and the board feels charging an entry free would alienate some of the audience they are trying to reach.

“The festival was founded on accessibility by all, regardless of physical limitation or economic situation. We continue to believe in that principle and oppose a gated event,” said Rick Rubin, festival president, in a letter to the commission. Fest officials said they ask for donations at the event and are offering raffles.

“The county currently designates part of the hotel/motel tax to the festival. Maybe the one-time funding you requested would be an option. You have asked for $7,500 a year to replace the 0.5 percent in hotel/motel tax,” said Commissioner Blair Couch, referring to Rubin’s letter. The commissioners said they would consider the request at budget time.

Bids for 25 bullet-proof vests for the sheriff’s department were opened by commissioners. Bids came from Town Police Supply, a division of Town Gun Shop Inc., of Richmond, Va., for $719 each, and Galls, of Lexington, Ky., for $710 a vest. The bids were turned over to the sheriff’s department for review and recommendation. No date was given when a decision would be made.

In other business, a $38,743 Victims of Crime Act grant application for the victim’s advocate salary and an assistant was forwarded for consideration.

“If the grant is funded, this will be the 17th year for the county to receive it. A match of $9,811 is needed, it is provided through benefits paid through the prosecutor’s office. Last year, the victim advocate served 7,222 victims providing 9,681 services,” said Toni Tiano, county grant coordinator.

Victim advocates provide information on court procedures, keep victims apprised of hearings and proceedings, liaison between attorneys and victims, provide referrals to other community services if needed and assist with victim reparation and the crime victims reparation fund.