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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 cityâs 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 cityâs final counteroffer when it rejected the rally boardâs $7,500 contract proposal for the 2011 rally, leading to the rallyâs cancellation.
In March, Turner said he was disappointed in the boardâs decision.
âThe main reason I believed it would work was because it has worked for 13 years in the past,â Turner said. âThe town is able to work with its budget and make adjustments even before the rally starts. For example, if we see thereâs 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 thereâs 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.â
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.
âIt depends on what the rest of the aldermen decide,â Hanson said. âAfter that (decision), weâll get a release together.â
Hanson said he has no comment on the direction he expects Tuesdayâs discussion to take, but he has spoken with some of the aldermen.
âIâve talked to a couple of (aldermen who) have voted for the contract,â Hanson said. âI have not been able to talk to any (aldermen who) voted against it. They would not respond to my phone calls.â
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, Harveyâs and Central Station Grill in Starkville and several restaurants throughout the Southeast.
âIt brought character to our community,â De La Cruz said. âIt just makes our community more diverse, which makes us more attractive.â
However, some Sturgis citizens and business owners have responded with support for or acceptance of the city boardâs 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.
âIt doesnât matter one way or the other with us,â Nason said. âWeâre there for the community all year long. The restaurant doesnât survive off of one weekend. The people of the city of Sturgis elect aldermen. We have to hope theyâll make the best decision. We would love the extra revenue, but we just have to go by what they decide, and weâll live with it.â