Athens Review, Athens, Texas

February 7, 2013

AEDC gives Splash Pad $20K

Fund-raising effort nearing $130,000 mark

Rich Flowers
The Athens Review


The Athens Leadership Institute Splash Pad project got a boost from the Athens Economic Development Cooperation Board on Thursday, but not as big as the amount that was requested.

The AEDC voted to grant $20,000 toward the Splash Pad. The allocation pushes the fundraising effort to more than $120,000 of the estimated $200,000 cost. The $20,000 makes the AEDC the second-largest contributor to the splash pad effort to date.

“This will be considered essentially a city park project,” AEDC President and CEO Brian Malone said. “Obviously if we do approve the funds it will be subject to city council approval and also ... a public hearing.”

Athens City Administrator Pam Burton said the Splash Pad definitely falls under the definition of a public project which allows the AEDC to contribute the money.

“It is not a gray area. It is clear,” Burton said.

During the January 10 AEDC meeting, Tony Kalawe, representing the Athens Chamber of Commerce, asked for $75,000 to help build the 2,300-square-foot pad. Project organizers are hoping to have funds completely raised by March and have the pad ready to use by summer.

The AEDC also voted to give the Henderson County Black Rodeo Association $2,000 for the 2013 Juneteenth Rodeo. The AEDC action requires the approval of the City Council to take effect. The board decision came after a lengthy discussion in which members of the board voiced concern over whether the AEDC could grant money to an event.

Black Rodeo Association CEO Jeffery Enoch asked the board for $5,000 to help meet initial expenses for the rodeo. The Rodeo Association is budgeting $22,900 to produce the event, which Enoch said drew about 5,000 people last year.

Enoch said the AEDC contribution would not only help fund the June rodeo, but in turn, money raised at the event would help fund other projects the association is planning. Among the Black Rodeo Association goals, Enoch said, is to obtain a building for community services such as youth mentoring, afterschool tutoring, adult day care and GED classes.

AEDC board member Joe Masso said he would be interested to know to what degree the money raised during the Juneteenth Rodeo would be used for education and the creation of job skills. Masso said the Rodeo Association could come back at a later time and request help with those projects.