Wanted: Fireworks funds

In just seven short weeks, fireworks should be blasting over Dewey Hill.
Alex Doty
May 18, 2013

 

That will only happen if community donations come together in time for the July 4 spectacular.

A void was left after the local Jaycees Club withdrew its support of the fireworks show, citing financial woes.

The Grand Haven Community Foundation and the City of Grand Haven have teamed up to work to make the show go on.

“I think the general public can rest assured knowing there will be a really good fireworks show on July 4 in Grand Haven,” City Manager Pat McGinnis said.

Holly Johnson, president of the Community Foundation, said that after holding several strategic meetings, they agreed to help put on this year’s show through a challenge grant.

“This is a one-time deal from the Community Foundation,” Johnson said. “We already have several gifts that have been made.”

The city will contribute $10,000 for the show out of its general fund, and the Marian A. and Ruth K. Sherwood Family Fund and the Greatest Needs Fund of the Community Foundation will match up to $6,000 of whatever is raised by the community.
 
“This is a huge advantage when it comes to fundraising,” McGinnis said. “They get to have the biggest bang for their buck.”

Johnson said people may contribute to the show by submitting funds to the foundation, designating their funds for the July 4 fireworks.

McGinnis emphasized that the city isn’t in the business of putting on fireworks displays, and they are just picking up things in the Jaycees’ wake so there is a fireworks show in 2013.  He said he hoped some other community group could take on the fireworks show in future years, with continued city support.

The Jaycees’ members decided in February to no longer organize the fireworks show. At the same time, they sent a letter to the fireworks vendor saying that they don’t have the funds to pay for last year’s display. At that time, the Jaycees still owed $14,000 of the $22,000 display.

The city contracted with the Jaycees last year to produce a show, and gave the club a $10,000 check and allowed them to rent out municipal boat slips for the event. That raised another $3,030.

Andy James, owner of Indiana-based Mad Bomber Fireworks Productions, said the community organization only paid $8,000 toward the fireworks show.

But the Jaycees’ accounting is not a city matter, McGinnis said, explaining that the city paid an entity to create a spectacular fireworks show, and they did that. How that entity allocates its money is not the city’s concern, although he did note that he has “zero evidence” that any city money was misspent.

“We have no reason to believe we are not getting what we are paying for,” he said.

To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

Comments

christopher

I think it is important that we find out what happened to the money. In an earlier article, the incoming treasurer of the organization essentially said he had no idea where the money for last year's fireworks were spent. Is there anyway the public can get an accounting of this money. I know that the community foundation is a completely different entity, but it is important that we have faith in local agencies if we are expected to give to them.

Does the Trib plan to dig in to this further?

Cheryl Welch

Thank you, Christopher, for your comment. The Tribune is looking into what happened with the Jaycees' accounting. The city contracted with the Jaycees to produce a show, and they did, in 2012. So, from the city's perspective, the city's money went toward a product that was delivered. The city has complied with a FOIA request from the Tribune, and everything on their end appears to be on the up-and-up. The Grand Haven Community Foundation and city have stepped up to work to get the fireworks show going again this year. They will direct fireworks funds from community members directly to the fireworks show, they assured us. As for the Jaycees, stay tuned to the Tribune for more on this.

Vladtheimp

"The city contracted with the Jaycees to produce a show, and they did, in 2012. So, from the city's perspective, the city's money went toward a product that was delivered."

What the heck kind of journalism does that represent? Did the Tribune get a copy of the city's contract with the Jaycees? Did it include a requirement that the money be used exclusively for the event? Did it attempt to protect the vendors, who are the victims here? Did it require an accounting? If this is a contract situation, did the city solicit others to provide the product, like competitive bidding?

This attitude seems to imply that everything with the Jaycees is fine because they complied with a FOIA request, and tough noogies for the vendor. I wonder how many other vendors will take this lack of concern for them into account when considering undertaking work for Grand Haven and its "friends."

Say no to new taxes

Does this town really need two fireworks shows only weeks apart? Coast Guard fireworks are the best around and should be enough to satisfy just about everyone. $10,000 would buy a lot of canned goods that could be distributed to the working poor, instead of blowing it into the sky on the 4th of July.

rukidding

Is this the new math? The city gave the thieves $10,000.00 and boat slips generated $3,030.00 for a total of $13,030.00. The thieves paid the vendor $8,000.00 so there is $5,030.00 stolen. The bill from the vendor was $22,000.00 so under the best of circumstances the thieves were short almost $9,000.00 right from the start. Where was this money going to come from?

So the philosophy for the thieves was, we can't pay this anyway so why not use a little of it to handle a couple personal issues; who will know?

This is simple really; show us the dispersment for the $5,030.00 in question. If you can't then the treasurer/bookkeeper is guilty by default and responsible for the money. Regardless, the city is not responsible as they contracted with nobody on this fiasco; this is the thieves’ internal issue.

Did I forget to mention, the Jaycees and thieves can be used interchangeably?

Lakeshorelookout

Ok..So I get the fact that there is or Was an issue at the Jaycees with the controller. It sounds as if there is a new person in the position trying to figure it out and get to the bottom of where and who may have misplaced (Stole or used) funds incorrectly. The one point that I do not seem to get is why has there not been any reports to authorities about thousands of missing dollars?

Yes, we have drifted from the original subject of having a fireworks display or not on the 4th. I would say two shows a month apart is justified. As for the comment from "say no to new taxes" about canned food for the working poor. I have been in that tough place and completely understand the struggle however with out the added revenue from all of the people coming to town spending money we would not be able to fund some of the other programs that are there for the less fortunate. It is a double edged sword I know. Why not use the money for the good but the old saying says, it takes money to make money...

I hope that there is plenty of private funds in our community that would easily cover the cost of the show...I will not name anyone specific.

Lakeshorelookout

Ok..So I get the fact that there is or Was an issue at the Jaycees with the controller. It sounds as if there is a new person in the position trying to figure it out and get to the bottom of where and who may have misplaced (Stole or used) funds incorrectly. The one point that I do not seem to get is why has there not been any reports to authorities about thousands of missing dollars?

Yes, we have drifted from the original subject of having a fireworks display or not on the 4th. I would say two shows a month apart is justified. As for the comment from "say no to new taxes" about canned food for the working poor. I have been in that tough place and completely understand the struggle however with out the added revenue from all of the people coming to town spending money we would not be able to fund some of the other programs that are there for the less fortunate. It is a double edged sword I know. Why not use the money for the good but the old saying says, it takes money to make money...

I hope that there is plenty of private funds in our community that would easily cover the cost of the show...I will not name anyone specific.

Chigirlie

I cannot believe what I just read in the other article! You have a company that has provided a wonderful show for 20 years, rip them off for more than half of what they are owed for last year, and now the City is thinking of using a DIFFERENT company to do the display for the 4th of July??? What a slap in the face to a vendor you have had a long time relationship with!!!
I sincerely hope this is not how you do business in Grand Haven!

rukidding

Chigirlie, you are absolutely correct and the City should be ashamed of itself for their intended actions. Not only has the Mad Bomber lost money from the Jaycees, but now they have lost future business that will pay; they did nothing wrong.

I liken it to the bar that runs tabs for people, finally cuts a particular patron off for a large tab, no payments, and says only cash until this is taken care of. The patron is angry and embarrassed so takes their cash to another establishment and the original bar not only loses the money owed but a cash customer on top of it.

I agree with you Chigirlie, the City needs to use their heads and not penalize The Mad Bomber; if they continue with this process they should be ashamed of themselves.

Chigirlie

http://www.wzzm13.com/news/artic...

"WZZM 13 asked Mayor McCaleb if there would be a fireworks show without donations. "I just don't want to believe that's going to happen," she replied.

The fireworks company from last year has submitted a proposal to run the show this year, but city leaders haven't made a final decision yet; they want to see how much money is available and where they get the best offer."

poop

Would it also be safe to say that all of the cash put into the plastic donation buckets is missing and unaccounted for as well? Should the Jaycees also provide an accounting for the last few years of donations with regards to the fireworks shows?

Chigirlie

Good luck to the 'new' fireworks company.... I guess 20 years of providing a beautiful show and then stiffing the Mad Bomber means nothing to the City Council, had to stab them in the back and hire a new company for this year.

Despicable way for you guys to act!!

 

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