Logan candidate feature: Karl Ward, Tom Jensen, Jeannie Simmonds

<em>Cache Valley Daily is talking to Logan Municipal Council Candidates prior to the November election. Today’s question of Karl Ward, Tom Jenson and Jeannie Simmonds is: “What should Logan City do about future July 4 “Freedom Fire” celebrations in light of the $60,000 lost staging the event last summer?”</em>

<strong>Karl Ward:</strong>

“I definitely would support moving this ahead in the future. I did a little research on this. The Freedom Fire program actually cost the city only about $60,000. The budget that’s approved every year is what the expected cost for the whole thing will be but then that’s offset by ticket sales and by sponsor donations. And those came in at about $190,000. So we were $60,000 short. This program last July was a little over four times more costly than what we’ve done in the past. I talked with Holly Fjeldsted who had been involved in the planning and organization of this festival for the past 11 years, and also with Russ Akina of the Parks and Recreation Department, and they feel that going forward into 2012 it would probably cost about the same but that it will have higher participation. For example, in 2010, there were about 8,400 people in attendance and in 2011 that number jumped to over 13,000. They expect by making some adjustments to ticket prices that number is expected to hit 17,000 in 2012. So it should fully fund itself through sponsor donations and ticket sales. “Even if it doesn’t I think it’s worthwhile enough that this is something that should be incorporated into the city’s budget and we should plan for it. It is a fantastic event. It provides a great service to the community and the surrounding valley.”

<strong>Tom Jensen:</strong>

“It was a great event, I actually participated in it as part of the chorus. We had our whole family here and I have to say that during the performance I was never so proud of Logan and Utah State and our armed forces. It really was a very inspirational program and I would hope to have it continue. I think we have to recognize this was the first time that it was on this scale and we need to make some adjustments. First of all I think it will build as people recognize the great show inside of the gates must be attended. “The other thought is, yes, maybe there’s some cutback on some costs but I certainly would not want to scrap it. The question I would ask is how do we get some support from the 50,000 people lying on blankets outside? Basically, they’re getting a free show and maybe the county ought to share in some of this because the people are coming from North Logan, Smithfield, and Hyrum and all over. I’m really in support of it but we need to do a little better business plan. I thought the prices of the some of the seats were too high and I think we would have filled it we wouldn’t have had such expensive seats on the west side. I think the show will build as people hear about it and have an appreciation by coming inside the stadium.”

<strong>Jeannie Simmonds:</strong>

“One of the most amazing things that happens in Logan City for the Fourth of July holiday is the celebration with the fireworks. We’re known for our fireworks, people come from all around to see them. It’s a wonderful, patriotic event. I am upset that we lost $60,000; I think that’s hard. However, I do believe we need to give it more than one chance. Perhaps we need to alter our expectations a little bit so we can come closer to breaking even. If we haven’t broken even in two to three years I think we have to really reconsider scaling it back significantly again. It is truly amazing to be in the stadium for that kind of an event. But my thought would be you have to give it more than shot. “We need to have a conversation with Craig Jessop because I know he was instrumental in getting Diamond Rio to come here. We need to talk with him very clearly about what our expectations are and what our ability to pay is and see if we can’t come up with a group that will draw a crowd but maybe doesn’t cost quite so much money. I’m hoping we can still do something a little bigger than we used to do, but I can’t imagine we can be $60,000 in the hole again, that’s not wise spending.”

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