CAPC OKs $107K for Aud renovations

Thursday, May 5, 2022

The Auditorium will continue to receive a facelift after more funds were approved for renovations and improvements.

The Eureka Springs City Advertising and Promotion Commission, at its April 27 meeting, unanimously approved $107,443 from its surplus budget to be used for an array of projects aimed at sprucing up the facility.

Madison Dawson, the city’s tourism director, told the CAPC that Nabholz Construction recently submitted a bid for $67,443 to complete a list of projects in the Aud’s basement.

“So, we received this bid from [Nabholz] to do all of the things that we’ve talked about … building up the walls, creating a side little closet over there by the elevator,” Dawson said. “We’ll have a closet for storage, for things like tables and chairs and things like that when we eventually have expos and conventions. That’s for all the things we need done in the basement construction-wise.”

The list of projects also includes replacing stairs that aren’t up to code and removing a gas furnace, Dawson said.

It was not mentioned during discussion whether any additional bids for the project were requested or received.

In addition to the work in the basement, Dawson requested $25,000 for audio and visual improvements and $15,000 to improve the concessions area, including painting and a new refrigeration system.

“This [money] will all come out of our surplus from last year … our account that has over $1 million in it as it stands,” Dawson said.

The audio and visual improvements will include equipment that will allow attendees to see live video of whatever is happening in the Auditorium while they are downstairs in the basement and will also include new acoustic ceiling panels.

The CAPC also unanimously approved spending $3,000 to hire a “talent liaison” to work with staff for the 75th Annual Original Ozark Folk Festival, which will take place in November. In the past, the CAPC has hired a “producer” for $5,000.

“This year we think we need the talent liaison, and the responsibilities are fewer,” Dawson said. “So, we’ve identified $3,000 for the pay.

“We will do all coordination as far as locations go, all logistics, all of those things, all advertising. All of that will go through us. We really just need this part. We need someone who’s knowledgeable in booking talent and in the folk festival or in the folk genre.”

No progress on vacant spot

In other business, the CAPC failed to select someone from among four applicants for the vacant seat on the commission.

“Let’s advertise it again for 30 days and see if we get other candidates and we’ll keep these candidates available,” CAPC chairman Jeff Carter said.

“In 30 days, you’re going to have two vacancies because my term ends in June,” longtime commissioner James DeVito reminded Carter.

The decision to readvertise the position came after three candidates failed to get enough votes and a fourth never received a motion for nomination.

David Avanzino, owner of Wanderoo Lodge, was denied a spot in a 3-2 affirmative vote that saw commissioner Patrick Burnett abstain. One additional vote would have given Avanzino the fourth needed for his nomination to go to the city council for approval.

Commissioners Autumn Slane, Nick Roberts and DeVito voted for Avanzino while Carol Wright and Carter voted against.

Applicant Andrea Evans was nominated by Burnett and received additional votes from Carter and Wright. DeVito, Slane, and Roberts voted against to tie the tally at 3-3.

Bill King, a former member of the CAPC and city council, also applied for the role but was voted down 3-2. Roberts and DeVito voted for King with Slane, Burnett and Wright voting against. Carter did not vote.

The fourth applicant, Heather Reed, failed to receive a nomination.

Numbers up

CAPC finance director Scott Bardin reported to the commission that collections are up $123,468 through the first quarter in 2022 and that collections on food and beverage were up 83 percent ($53,092) from budget and collections from lodging are up 57 percent from budget at $45,676.

“March is actually representative of February collections, which I do think we had some bad weather,” Bardin said. “But traditionally also the first quarter of any business year tends to be the lowest of the four.

“So, we’re strong and I look for us to have a really strong finish the next three quarters.”

Bardin also reported that collections from food and beverage were up 81 percent from March 2021 and collections from lodging were up 10 percent from a year ago.

Ex-mayor calls for resignations

In the time set aside for public comments, former mayor Beau Satori called for Carter and Wright to resign from the commission.

“I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the story in the Lovely County Citizen about the discrepancy between recordings and depositions,” Satori said. “And then we saw [April 25] the council table an item in trying to address dishonesty in government.

“What a lot of people don’t realize, and they haven’t put the story together yet, is that a lot of the dishonesty that has been shown in these depositions and in these recordings all stem from events from this commission. And the problems do not go back so much as to any improper behavior of any former employees of this commission, but to current commissioners.

“What people are starting to put together is that the commissioners, Carol Wright, and Jeff Carter, were carrying on stories which were recorded and then later going on a deposition and denying what they actually said because they did not realize that they had been recorded.

“So, we’re looking back over a two-year period of problems … and I think these issues are going to continue to come out. There are still emails being studied, there are still depositions being reviewed. And I would still politely ask for the resignation of Jeff Carter and Carol Wright.”

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