Buckhannon City Council allocates $100,000 to committee preparing for World Marching Band Competition

BUCKHANNON – Buckhannon City Council members voted during their May 6 meeting to allot $100,000 for the World Association of Marching Band Shows Competition. In January, Robert Eklund, International President and CEO of WAMSB, announced that Buckhannon had been selected as the site for the 2023 competition – just the second time a site has been selected in the United States.

Amberle Jenkins reminded council the WAMSB event would be large draw for the area and is only two years away.

“So far, council has a willingness to support this event,” Jenkins said. “In February, council had agreed to contribute $100,000 toward a grant, but at that same time Callie (Cronin Sams) was leaving the city, so that grant application was not completed and we did not get that sent in in time. [City Recorder] Randy (Sanders) and I have met with Dionne Allen who works at Region VII, and she is looking for grants for us. We think there is going to be some form of grant we can get, but we are not sure – there will also be some meetings with Arts and Culture in Charleston.”

Jenkins said a non-profit organization is being established that will house the funds for the event because that is a requirement for soliciting many kinds of sponsors.

“We do not have the capability here,” Jenkins said. “Corporate sponsors want to contribute to a sponsor who has a 501c3 status. We are tax exempt, but are not a 501c3. So, after speaking with the Auditor’s Office, they suggested this needs to be a separate fund and a separate account. The WAMSB committee has done a lot of work.”

Jenkins said city attorney Thomas O’Neill already got a Federal ID number for the WAMSB Buckhannon Host Committee. 

“I contacted an accountant and he is going through the application process for the 501c3 status,” Jenkins reported. “O’Neill said he believes the newly organized committee can begin operations immediately while waiting on the 501c3 application. This committee will operate much like the other local events we have here in Buckhannon in that the city can now contribute to that organization.”

Jenkins said the WAMSB Buckhannon Host Committee consists of the following members – Chairperson Randy Sanders, Amberle Jenkins, Callie Cronin Sams, Alisa Lively, Laura Meadows and Brad Kellison.

“This committee will need to get funds while it waits for sponsorship,” Jenkins said. “The question is whether the city is willing to contribute that $100,000 to enable the committee to begin to acquire insurance, establish an international social media presence – one of the most important tasks will be to engage a media consultant, who will begin seeking corporate sponsorship right away.”

Jenkins said she and Sanders will continue to work with Region VII to look for grant funding.

Councilman David Thomas said he thought council should contribute $100,000.

“You just reported, Amby, that our first quarter sales tax was $430,000-some,” Thomas said. “I think the sales tax has given us flexibility for things like this. When you are looking at the impact in Buckhannon and Upshur County in a couple years – and it’s not just Upshur County that will have a positive impact. Think of the surrounding areas. We will have all these bands coming in and all of the area around Upshur County will have positive impacts. It is going to be phenomenal. It is a very exciting time for Upshur County and all of the surrounding areas. When we look at the sales tax, we should look to what opportunities it has to bring more involvement into the community in the future.”

Councilwoman Pam Bucklew said she was 100 percent in favor of giving funds for the committee but asked exactly what the $100,000 would go toward. She also asked if there is money left over after the event, where the funds will go.

“The committee will decide that, but it will go to charitable organizations in the community that are art-based,” Jenkins said.

“We have to hire a professional media consultant,” Jenkins added. “We will get sponsors and are looking at grants. Putting on the event will cost money – renting port-o-johns, electric, and every expense.”

Council voted to give $100,000 to the committee. Since Sanders is on the committee, he abstained from voting on the motion.

During the comments and announcements toward the end of the meeting, Sanders said WAMSB has commitments so far from bands in Angola, Africa; the Bahamas; Brazil; Canada; four bands from Columbia; Congo, Africa; Costa Rico; Ecuador; El Salvador; Germany; Guatemala; Honduras; Ireland; the Netherlands; Poland; Thailand; Uruguay; and two bands from Venezuela.

“So far, we have 29 bands with letters of commitment,” Sanders said. “We are working with bands in the United States as well. It is truly going to be an international event – it will be the world coming to Buckhannon, West Virginia.”

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