City gives preliminary OK for Rumblefest car show to be held in city park
The annual Rumblefest Car show got a green light from members of the Medford City Council at Monday night’s committee of the whole meeting.
The annual car show is held the last weekend in July in the city park and draws about 300 entries and thousands of visitors for a weekend of activities. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic leading to event cancellations around the state, Rumblefest organizers came to the city seeking permission to continue having it.
Brandon Jensen, a Rumblefest organizer, said the group has been in discussion for weeks about how they could continue to have the show while also ensuring safety for those in the show, visitors and workers. Some changes that they are looking at implementing include the food prep and concession with additional wash stations, having one person handle money and heavy emphasis on continuing to use proper food handling sanitation procedures. Alderman Christine Weix questioned if the group had checked with its insurance provider about protection if someone were to trace getting sick back to attending the show. Jensen said that they hold general liability insurance for the event and would check with their insurance about COVID-19 issues.
Alderman Dave Roiger noted the car show is spread out in the park so large concentrations are not in any one place. “I don’t see a big concern,” he said, noting the issue would be the food service area and that the organizers were working to improve that.
“We are talking two months down the road, a lot of things can change,” Roiger said.
City coordinator John Fales said they brought the event to the council for direction since it is the only summertime public event in the park that is still being held. The pavilions have been open for rentals for family gatherings and parties, but he noted there have been many cancellations as people have been uncomfortable holding events.
“But that is their choice,” said alderman Mike Bub. Bub noted that in the past few weekends there have been a number of softball tournaments which have drawn crowds. “I think people are more aware and more cautious with using sanitizer and distancing,” Bub said. He supported allowing events in the park. “I would like to see people using it,” Bun said. “If there is a huge spike in the number of cases we can revisit it.” As of Monday Taylor County was still at only two confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Alderman Laura Holmes followed up on liability questions wondering if there was any sort of exemption and if the city should be concerned. Roiger related his experience with the Whittlesey Lions saying that the insurance providers said they will defend them if they are sued over it. He noted it is not that easy to trace it back to being contracted at an event when people could have come into contact with it at the grocery store or gas station. “I think this will be a thing for lawyers trying to make money down the road,” Roiger said.
Aldermen clarified that while they do not want to review every private rental, alderman Greg Knight in particular said the public events should be brought to the council just so that organizers are aware of concerns.
Organizer Justin Zirngible said they would also be in contact with the county health department to see if they had any guidance to offer on the event. The recommendation from the committee of the whole will have final action at next week’s city council meeting.
In other business, aldermen: _ Approved paying lifeguards for the shifts they would have been scheduled to work between the originally scheduled pool opening on June 10 and when the council will review the pool opening on June 22. Mayor Mike Wellner proposed paying the lifeguards for the shifts in order to not lose them to other summer jobs. He said if the city waited a month to open and then didn’t have any lifeguards, the city would look silly. Roiger asked if there was some other place in the city where the lifeguards could be put to work such as painting hydrants or other similar tasks. Streets/water superintendent Joe Harris said those tasks are already being taken care of and that supervision becomes an issue. Wellner said if the council voted on June 22 to reopen the pool, the lifeguards would be put to work selling passes and doing training for the few days before the pool opened to the public.
_ Recommended moving ahead with the sale of $4.49 million in general obligation bonds with the proceeds to pay for the new water tower and sewer expansion in Tax Incremental District (TID) No. 13, sewer plant upgrades as well as refinancing debt the was issued in 2011. With projected interest rates around 1.25% to 1.5% the city is looking to save about $150,000 in interest payments. The 2011 debt service has a 4% interest rate, it becomes callable this October. Brian Reilly a senior municipal advisor with Ehlers Public Finance Advisors, said the city has been good stewards with its debt service, noting the city has a debt capacity of about $15.7 million and that after these bonds are issued, will still have about 60% of its debt capacity remaining. The bonds will be paid off through increment from TID 13 and the utilities with none of it expected to fall back on the general taxpayers.
_ Received formal notice of clerk Virginia Brost’s planned retirement at the end of 2020. She will have worked for the city for 40 years. Alderman recommended moving ahead with the creation of a selection committee made up of Wellner, Bub, finance chairman Dave Brandner, Fales and Brost as an ex officio member. The committee will narrow the applicants with the finalists to be interviewed by the city council.