Farmers market discussions moving along

Published 7:34 pm Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Boyle County Farmers Market is still on its way to Constitution Square, as the fiscal court considered revamping an old license agreement between the group and the county during its Tuesday meeting.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Jennifer Kirchner presented the former agreement to the court and asked for a few changes; the major one being the previously agreed-upon $1,800 rental fee of the park. Former County Attorney Richard Campbell had worked on the agreement with John Wyatt, who used to represent the market, Kirchner said.

She said she has a meeting set up this week with AARP, and is “confident that a $5,000 grant will pan out” through the organization, as well as other opportunities, such as sponsoring events in correlation with the market.

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“We may purchase some tents … it’s all coming along nicely, we’re still in the planning stages,” Kirchner said. She said the $1,800 rental fee was agreed upon years ago to be “in case of electrical needs or wear and tear to the grounds.”

Kirchner said there is “minimal if any at all electrical needs” she’s discovered in talking with farmers, other than one who uses an electric griddle, but a generator can be used in these situations.

“I don’t think we need to address electrical costs, but if they did come up, we can address them,” Kirchner said. “I would propose a minimum of the first year’s fee being waived.”

She said everyone has been “incredibly supportive and happy” about the market being at Constitution Square, and she feels like the location will generate a lot of additional revenue for downtown merchants.

Kirchner said the market generates about $3,000 from membership dues. Brianna Feistritzer, vice chair of the market, said membership fees — which are $100 — are used to operate the debit machine, to cover insurance and a few other programs.

“So they have operating expenses and needs, and (the rental fee) would be taking money away from that — they don’t have it. We can get it from the grant, or come up with another way to get it. But I would rather invest the money in making the market be the best it can be, at least this year,” Kirchner said.

Magistrate Phil Sammons asked Kirchner if she’d recommend possibly reducing the fee to $1,000.

“For?” Kirchner asked. “We’re not sure there’s going to be expenses incurred …”

Feistritzer said part of the fee issue is “that where we currently are, at the (Danville) high school, we have no fee. We’d be taking on another expense” in addition to moving the market.

“Well, then we shouldn’t charge you, either,” Sammons said.

Magistrate John Caywood said, “We’re getting such good PR — that we need every now and then — off of pushing and encouraging this. We’re getting $1,800 worth of good PR.”

“Yeah, and we’re already in the hole,” Magistrate Jason Cullen joked.

Caywood said, “If there’s people ‘on the grass,’ it’s a good thing — that’s why we bought it. Let’s help farmers market and get this thing going.”

Cullen asked if most of the participating farmers are Boyle people, to which Feistritzer said yes — with some from a few surrounding counties.

“But they’re paying taxes, they’re paying for the parks that we allow them to use,” Cullen said. “I’m in agreement with John, we need to not be double-dipping on our taxpayers, especially if they’re bringing people down to see the significance of the park.”

Feistritzer said in order to ease some of the magistrates’ concerns about only having local wares for sale, “we have a strict set of guidelines and rules to even be a member of the market.”

Kirchner said another part of the old agreement needed to be removed, which contained a non-compete clause regarding vendors not selling anything downtown merchants might be selling. Magistrates agreed with that, saying it would be impossible to enforce.

“If there was an addition of an arts vendor, we can bring forth another proposal,” Kirchner said, which would mandate they must be local. She has already had discussions with the Arts Commission about bringing local artists, such as potter Paul Muth, who can possibly set up for demonstrations and selling their goods.

Kirchner said they are trying not to put vendors out on Main Street in order to keep those spaces open for parking. “And there are vendors who won’t vend from a truck or car and will set up inside the park,” she said.

Kirchner said there hasn’t been “a rush” of people asking about setting up booths to sell things, but there have been quite a few asking if they can hold programs in the cabins while the market is going on. There will be a quilting workshop held one Saturday, she said, with more programming in the works.

There will be a more clear indication of how many farmers will be participating, Kirchner said, after the farmers market has its March meeting, and membership dues are collected. “We’ll get the set number that will be out there, then we’ll go back to the park and map it. So, details are still to come.”

Sammons asked if the group of farmers who set up beside the central fire station on Main Street are part of the Boyle County group; Feistritzer said they are not.

“We’re not really sure who that group is, but they’re not a part of our farmers market and they’re not local to Boyle County,” she said.

“My only issue is that we want to keep it in the spirit of what it’s intended for — a farmers market, not a craft fair or a concession stand,” Cullen said. “We want local produce, and products that were made here. We gotta make sure that if we’re going to have this out there, and you know how much I want it … I want it to be a farmers market.”

Kirchner said also to be changed in the agreement is the duration. “I think we’ll do May through September; it had been April through October, and I think the time of day will be shorter. There’s just a few nuts and bolts in the agreement that need to be changed.”

In other business

Magistrate Jamey Gay told the court he and other magistrates spoke to Rep. Daniel Elliott and Sen. Rick Girdler recently during county officials legislative day in Frankfort.

He said they brought attention to the two lawmakers that the pool at Kentucky School for the Deaf was once again down and not operating.

Gay said the school serves 100 children from all over the state, and its pool has been “an ongoing issue.”

“We need to ask the community to advocate that the pool get back into operating status,” Gay said. He said KSD just recently finished a new elementary school on its campus, “but we need to urge the state to maintain its full facility there.”

Gay said the pool’s secondary function is a meet location for area counties’ swim teams, which he said brings customers to local businesses when they visit.

“The Kentucky Department of Education knows it’s down, which is not always the case,” Gay said. He said he was told KDE will have a contractor come in to put together a proposal to review the cost to repair the pool.

“And everyone in the community, please urge the city commission to push upon that issue, as well,” Gay said.

Magistrate Sammons took an opportunity during the magistrates’ comments section to offer an apology to Gay, whom he called “a friend of mine.” Sammons said he realizes he was out-of-line during the last fiscal court meeting, referring to calling Gay “nosey” when he was asking about discussions held during a joint sub-committee meeting.

“I’m saying from the bottom of my heart, I didn’t mean to be so arrogant with you, and I apologize, as a friend. We’ve been friends for too long,” Sammons said.

Gay said as far as he’s concerned, the whole thing is forgotten. “I know you can get tired and cranky,” he said. All laughed, including Sammons.