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Owen County Commissioners Hear Proposal On Festival Ordinances

Owen County Commissioners Meeting 10/7/19

Janet Rummel speaks to Owen County Commissioners Steve Williamson, Jeff Brothers, and Gary Burton during the Oct. 7 meeting of the Owen County Commissioners. (Mitch Legan, WTIU/WFIU News)

The Owen County Commissioners discussed a familiar topic in an unfamiliar location at Monday morning's meeting in Spencer.

Janet Rummel of the Spencer Downtown Event Coalition provided commissioners with suggestions on how to modify proposed changes to ordinances at the meeting, which was held at the county Emergency Management Agency conference room.

Controversy arose about the ordinance changes last month after form letters surfaced describing the Spencer Pride Fest as inappropriate for children.

Rummel and the Spencer Downtown Event Coalition had studied other festival ordinances throughout the state of Indiana before making their proposal. According to Rummel’s research, Owen County has “a pretty good ordinance as it exists now.”

The Event Coalition’s suggestions focused on bringing the ordinances up to date. Specifically, Rummel hoped to draw attention to some of the vague language in the current ordinances.

Most importantly, she says the coalition wanted to let the commissioners know they are more than willing to help.

“We wanted to be seen publicly as a collaborative organization; we want to assist in the democratic process,” Rummel says. “We know that they are reviewing the ordinances and we wanted to show that we can work collaboratively with the commissioners, making suggestions for the good of our community and maintaining our ability to host special events utilizing our courthouse.”

The Owen County Commissioners voted to take the suggestions under advisement.

After Rummel spoke, County Commissioner Steve Williamson thanked her for taking the initiative and presenting the coalition’s suggestions to the commissioners.

With the ball now in the commissioners’ court, Rummel says it is important for everyone in Owen County – not just Spencer – to keep up the support.

“It doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or a Republican; if you represent Spencer Pride or the Christian rock special event,” Rummel says. “We all are in this together.”

The meeting was held at the county Emergency Management Agency conference room. Normally Commissioners meetings are held at the Owen County courthouse. But the courthouse elevator is currently broken – a repair could cost anywhere between $30,000 and $60,000, according to county auditor Patty Steward.

Per the Americans with Disabilities Act, public meetings must be accessible to all, so the Owen County Commissioners meeting had to take place somewhere else.

Spencer Pride had offered to host the meeting at its commUnity Center across the street from the courthouse. The Tivoli Theatre also offered to host. The commissioners did not respond to either offer.

The Owen County Commissioners will next meet Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. at Emergency Management Agency conference meeting room at 129 S. Washington St. in Spencer.

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