By Jeff Noble
The City of Corbin and The Arena have taken issue to a letter to the editor that was written and signed last month by the board of directors of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Both say some information about moving the NIBROC Festival along Depot Street this year, and about the price of renting The Arena for NIBROC entertainment, were misquoted in the letter.
The letter dealt with changes to the NIBROC Festival this August, and appeared in the Times-Tribune Wednesday, Feb. 27. It was emailed by Tamara K. Malloy, the Chamber’s Executive Assistant.
According to the letter, it said the city had “voted against using Main Street for NIBROC, and would move the entire festival to Depot Street.” It mentioned the use of the parking lot between Gordon and Monroe Streets, behind the Elks Lodge, would also be restricted due to the city’s plans to renovate the lot which would prohibit carnival rides.
“While it can be used for vendors, volleyball or possibly entertainment, we as a board, are concerned that putting entertainment here will drastically reduce the already limited number of vendors, both commercial and local. The carnival would locate at the corners of 1st Street and Depot Street and continue down Depot Street from 1st to 4th Streets. It would include all parking lots and possibly extend to 7th Street,” the letter stated.
During their meeting on Feb. 11, the Corbin City Commission voted to approve leaving Main Street open for traffic during NIBROC, which is held the second weekend in August.
Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney noted Monday the city was not using Main Street so they could get the street repaved by the state highway department. Both Main Street and Kentucky Avenue are set to have repaving done this spring — the remaining work that began last fall.
“They can put it on Depot, from Gordon Street to 7th Street. And that was the original area where it (NIBROC) was set up. We just suggested that. We have always worked with NIBROC, ever since the first one. The city has always used our labor to clean up the area. It’s our people that clean up the site, clean up the storm drains, and who patrol the area all night. It’s all our people that does all that. We’ve never begrudged doing that. But this time, there’s a lot of merchants who have been upset about disrupting Main Street,” McBurney said.
The letter to the editor also mentioned the Chamber had considered several options, including moving the NIBROC entertainment to The Arena.
“While it sounds like an easy answer, this option has been explored throughly but, unfortunately, it is not a practical solution for many reasons. The City offered the Arena with use of a stage, at a reduced nonprofit fee. Using The Arena would also incur labor, parking and facility fees and insurance expenses totally over $11,000. This fee does not include sound production and lighting requirements. The insurance required for The Arena would be in addition to the insurance required for downtown events. These expenses make using The Arena cost prohibitive at this time,” the letter noted.
McBurney pointed out, “What was quoted to the Chamber from the Director of The Arena and what was put in the letter to the editor was different. Some of those prices were misquoted.”
What the letter to the editor did not list was the insurance the Chamber said was “required for The Arena.”
The full letter was sent on Feb. 26 and posted on the Chamber’s Facebook page. The section on insurance listed Workers’ Compensation, Commercial General Liability, Commercial Automobile Liability, Employers Liability and Umbrella or Excess Liability as some of the policies the “Licensee at its own costs and expense shall provide and keep in full force and effect during the Event.”
“That is what we provided. And the letter on the Facebook page lists what we provide,” said The Arena’s Director Connie Hunt.
Hunt added she was contacted about the offer of using the facility in February, around the time country singer Brantley Gilbert performed at the venue.
“I was contacted by Bruce Carpenter (Executive Director of the Southern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, who has also worked on getting musical entertainment for NIBROC for 29 years), and asked to submit a proposal for what the cost would be to use The Arena for NIBROC. He said they were looking at options. We discussed this with the Mayor. The proposal that I sent to him (Carpenter) on behalf of the Chamber had a rental for two nights, and included the staffing costs, and we would supply the stage here. … It included ushers, ticket tearers and cleanup. You have to have staff here for that. It was less than half of what was quoted in the letter. It was not $11,000,” Hunt said in an interview Tuesday.
She added The Arena felt like they wanted to work together with the Chamber to make things possible, if they chose to use The Arena’s location.
“After that proposal was sent with the figures listed, I did not hear anything back. I don’t know what other costs that’s making up the $11,000 they quoted. It may be something I’m not privy to.”
McBurney noted the letter to the editor, or the letter on the Chamber’s Facebook site, was not signed by individuals.
“I can’t understand that. They (the Chamber) didn’t sign it. The Chamber should be working side-by-side with the city and the merchants. We were just trying to help them. … We suggested it might be feasible if they have a concert at The Arena. It’s just a suggestion, they don’t have to bash us.”
Carpenter was contacted by phone Tuesday and said he would email with a reply. In his email reply in the afternoon, he said the Times-Tribune would need to contact the Chamber’s President, Josh Curry.
“I didn’t write the letter and I didn’t approve the letter. Yes, it was labeled ‘The Board of Directors.’ I saw the first draft, but it didn’t have any numbers. I did not write the second draft. I couldn’t tell you the specifics. I have no comment,” Curry said in a phone interview Tuesday evening.