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By CINDY SIMPSON
A representative from Friends of the Expo approached Harriman City Council this month in a presentation about upcoming fundraising events for the Henry/Stafford East Tennessee Agricultural Exposition Center at Roane State Community College.
The center hosts a wide variety of livestock and agricultural-related events every year. But the days of having the money it once did are gone, said Diane Cox of the Expo Center.
The center will still get an operations budget, but there is no more state money for improvements and additions, she said.
Cox said she and others hope the community will help support the center, which has been a viable economic draw for Roane County and particularly Harriman, where hotels are often filled by participants at center events.
Cox said that the center sees 3,000 horses in the barn in a month and up to 40,000 horses in a year.
“I’m always impressed when I go down there,” said Harriman Mayor Chris Mason, referring to the crowds that turn out for the Expo Center’s events.
“We reap the benefits,” he added.
One of the first fundraising projects planned is offering the adoption of seats at the center.
Cox said the Expo Center is in the process of installing 431 stadium seats, one of the last big state-funded projects.
The Friends of the Expo are giving people the opportunity to adopt seats. For a $100 donation, the Friends will install a plaque honoring the donor or his designated individual, group or business.
The Friends of the Expo will have a dinner show on Jan. 17, 2009. Seats and dinner will be available for $100; those wishing to attend only the show can buy tickets for $25 each.
“We are anticipating making about $60,000 from the show,” Cox said.
That money could go toward a cattle bin for the center, she said.
Councilman Ken Mynatt asked how the council could assist the Expo Center.
“It would be wonderful for you to buy seats,” Cox said.
Cox said show corporate sponsorships are being offered, including advertising on the Expo Center’s Web site and creating banners to hang at the tables.
Corporate sponsorship is $5,000.
Mynatt mentioned that council could buy a row of seats for $1,200 with a plaque indicating the section was sponsored by the Harriman City Council.
Mason noted city treasurer Charles Kerley’s meticulous detail on spending city funds.
“Does anyone have a blood pressure pill to give Dr. Kerley?” the mayor joked.
Council asked for time to consider Cox’s presentation before making a commitment.