By STEVEN NALLEY
Sturgis Mayor Walter Turner has confirmed plans for the Sturgis Board of Aldermen to discuss a motorcycle rally contract at its meeting Tuesday at 6:30 p.m., a contract it previously rejected.
On March 6, the city board rejected a funding agreement with the Sturgis South Bike Rally Board to reinstate the city’s annual motorcycle rally in a 3-2 vote. The proposal would have paid the city $8,500 toward such city services as security, sanitation and trash pickup. $8,500 was the city’s final counteroffer when it rejected the rally board’s $7,500 contract proposal for the 2011 rally, leading to the rally’s cancellation.
In March, Turner said he was disappointed in the board’s decision.
“The main reason I believed it would work was because it has worked for 13 years in the past,” Turner said. “The town is able to work with its budget and make adjustments even before the rally starts. For example, if we see there’s going to be a small crowd, we can cut back on the services ... trash services and security. We can adjust before we even spend the money, before the rally. Even if there’s some risk involved, which is minimal, the town needs to look at the greater good for the whole community and the surrounding area, including Starkville.”
Turner declined to comment further on the nature of rally discussion planned for Tuesday.
In March, Donny Hanson, rally board president, said a contract with the city must be approved before the end of April for a 2012 rally to take place. On Monday, Hanson said the rally board intends to issue a press release after the Sturgis city board finishes discussion Tuesday.
“It depends on what the rest of the aldermen decide,” Hanson said. “After that (decision), we’ll get a release together.”
Hanson said he has no comment on the direction he expects Tuesday’s discussion to take, but he has spoken with some of the aldermen.
“I’ve talked to a couple of (aldermen who) have voted for the contract,” Hanson said. “I have not been able to talk to any (aldermen who) voted against it. They would not respond to my phone calls.”
Some Starkville business owners have expressed interest in seeing the rally return. One of them is Arma Ruth De La Cruz, marketing manager for Eat With Us, which owns Bulldog Deli, Sweet Peppers Deli, Harvey’s and Central Station Grill in Starkville and several restaurants throughout the Southeast.
“It brought character to our community,” De La Cruz said. “It just makes our community more diverse, which makes us more attractive.”
However, some Sturgis citizens and business owners have responded with support for or acceptance of the city board’s decision. Jackie Nason, owner of Main Street Grill in Sturgis, said her restaurant has historically benefitted from the rally, but it does not survive off the rally alone.
“It doesn’t matter one way or the other with us,” Nason said. “We’re there for the community all year long. The restaurant doesn’t survive off of one weekend. The people of the city of Sturgis elect aldermen. We have to hope they’ll make the best decision. We would love the extra revenue, but we just have to go by what they decide, and we’ll live with it.”