GRAFTON—The Grafton City Council met on Tuesday, to discuss many matters of business, including the funding of a project for a historic landmark and helping to make the sky light up this Fourth of July.
The meeting started with Virginia Wolfe speaking on behalf of the International Mother’s Day Shrine, asking the council for assistance with restoration of the stained-glass windows at the building.
“I am here on a mission,” voiced Wolfe. “I belong to the Board of Trustees with the Mother’s Day Shrine and have been entrusted with this project.”
She shared that the windows have not been touched in 116 years, and they are in dire need. She presented the board with information about the estimated costs to repair and restore the windows.
“We are trying to get grants to help. I have sent approximately 4,000 letters to get help with funding,” Wolfe reported. “I come today to ask the council for some help, and I hope the council can contribute.”
Wolfe shared that through donations, they have raised approximately $54,000 for the project.
Mayor Peggy Barney voiced that it is a very worthwhile cause, and that the building holds a special place in her heart.
She asked Wolfe if she could wait a few days to allow the council to decide on an amount that they could contribute.
The council further discussed her request, and Council Member Sheila Westfall voiced concern about them helping with the project.
“I agree that the windows need to be replaced and that it is a very important piece of history to Grafton,” voiced Westfall. “My hesitancy is that any money that we give to you is money that we can’t give to someone else to use. The Shrine just received two million dollars.”
Wolfe told Westfall that she is not looking at that and she is not sure when the money will come and that it could take years.
“No, but it is coming and that is my hesitancy,” explained Westfall. “Other groups that come to us have nothing, let alone a promise of two million dollars.”
Council Member Karen Willis asked if they could make a motion to pledge support. The council voted to pledge their support to help with the restoration with a four to one vote, with Westfall voting against.
In other business, City Manager Kevin gave his report and announced some news about the 2019 Spirit of Grafton Celebration.
“As many already know the City has contracted Mark Wills to be the featured singer for this year’s Spirit of Grafton celebration,” Stead revealed. “We delayed the official announcement from the city until all contracts where agreed upon and signed.”
This is a free concert on the grounds of the Mother’s Day Shrine and Main Street on Saturday, May 25, at 8:00 p.m., followed by fireworks.
Stead shared that more details about this weekend will be forthcoming. Interested vendors need to contact the Grafton Fire Department.
In addition, Melissa Garvin with Taylor County Fireworks was present at the meeting to ask the council for help to make the sky light up for the community on the Fourth of July.
Garvin told the council that she is requesting $1,000, which would come out to 20 cents per citizen.
“Our vendor has told us that they will not sell a show to anyone for less than $5,000,” she explained. “We are asking for one fifth of that cost.”
Garvin told the council that will include the permits, HAZMAT transportation, insurance, the shells.
“We cover paying our assistants, babysitters and feeding our people,” said Garvin. “Also, the time it takes to plan and clean after.”
The council discussed the request and told Garvin they will look at the finances and give her a decision at a later time.
Reportedly, the discussion about assisting the Mother’s Day Shrine wasn’t over, and during Council Member’s Hearing the council members returned to discussing the matter.
Vice Mayor Brenda Thompson shared that the discussion was brought up again during the hearing and the members decided to take time to look through finances to see how they could assist with the project.
After further discussion, it was decided that the B&O tax could be waived which would give the Mother’s Day Shrine $7,000 for the project and furthermore, the council would be able to provide an additional $13,000.
Westfall shared that during the discussion, she voiced her concerned again about contributing the project.
“The Mother’s Day Shrine is a beautiful structure, and is a landmark for Grafton, but I feel that other organizations and groups could use support,” she stated. “I support the Shrine, but there are other organizations that are in dire need of assistance, and they do not have money coming to them.”
Reportedly, in the end, Barney abstained from voting on the matter and Westfall voted against, but the motion passed with a three to one vote.