WILMINGTON — A local music festival is doing something special for local veterans this Memorial Day weekend.
At Thursday night’s Wilmington City Council meeting, the council approved a $10,000 hotel lodging tax funding request from the band Over the Rhine. The request was made to cover the cost of the passes for their Nowhere Else Festival held during Memorial Day weekend that will be made available to local veterans groups and such. The event is held at the farm owned by husband-and-wife band members Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist near Martinsville.
City Revitalization Committee Chairperson Jonathan McKay told the council he meant to discuss the request at an earlier committee meeting, but due to some family health issues, he was unable to. The request was originally made on April 13.
McKay apologized for the short notice on the request to the full council.
“In honor of Memorial Day, we’d like to give away 100 two full-day festival passes to local veterans and residents of Clinton County who may not be able to afford the costs of admission,” said McKay, reading part of the request. “One of our musical guests this year is Mary Gauthier and all the songs on her latest CD were co-written with wounded veterans. Our goal would be to encourage veterans who may be struggling with PTSD or depression and eventually invite them out to the farm to participate in this initiative.”
The songs on Gauthier’s album — Rifles and Rosary Beads — were co-written with wounded combat veterans through the organization SongwritingWith:Soldiers.
Mayor John Stanforth expressed concerns over the large amount being requested at the spur of the moment. Councilmember Kelsey Swindler stated she was concerned about giving two large sums of money toward events featuring the same group.
The council earlier this year approved a hotel lodging tax funding request in regards to Over the Rhine’s Main Street performance in July that coincides with the Murphy Theatre’s 100th anniversary.
“We don’t want to give the perception that we have a certain intention and we want to be mindful of that,” she said. “But at the same time, it is helpful to know that we have a balance of $76,000 … but I don’t want us to sit on that money.”
Councilmember Kristi Fickert asked Detweiler what the vetting process is for picking the vets to get the passes. Detweiler said they were working with various organizations to help with it including Operation Cherrybend and Flight Deck. When asked if they get over 100 requests what would happen, Detweiler said they would try to get passes for as many of the applicants as they could.
Ultimately, the council approved the request 6-0, with one member absent.
Reach John Hamilton at 937-382-2574.