By Richard Kerns
rkerns@newstribune.info
Tribune Staff Writer
KEYSER – The Keyser City Council denied a request by the Mineral County Historical Foundation to hold a “roadblock” fundraiser along Route 220, saying if the city allowed the group to hold the drive, other organizations would want to as well, creating traffic backups and safety hazards for city residents.
Frank Roleff and Kermit Garretson of the Historical Foundation appeared at last week’s Council meeting as a followup to the request they made at the Aug. 11 meeting, when they sought permission from the city to lift its ban on the roadblock or drive-by fund drives.
With such fund raising efforts – fire-department “boot drives” often employ the same tactics — traffic is slowed or stopped by warning cones as volunteers beside the travel lane appeal to drivers for contributions as they pass. Taking advantage of a captive audience of sorts, and the kind of direct, face-to-face appeal that is typically harder for potential donors to resist, drive-by fundraisers can be lucrative.
Roleff said at the earlier meeting that past drives had netted more than $1,200. The Foundation would use the money for restoration and upkeep of the Carskadon Mansion, located directly off Route 220/South Mineral Street.
In addressing the request at last week’s council meeting, Mayor William “Sonny” Rhodes said it had been a consensus decision among the council members not to grant the waiver. To do so, he said, would invite similar appeals from the Keyser Volunteer Fire Department and other groups, some of which had contacted the city saying they would seek a similar waiver if one were granted to the Foundaiton.
“There would have been four other groups that wanted a bucket brigade,” the mayor said. “They wanted their turn.”
Unsatisfied with the mayor’s response, Roleff challenged the individual council members as to their positions on the request. They all indicated similar concerns, noting the precedent it would set for other organizations seeking permission for roadblock drives, as well as the inconvenience imposed on motorists, and the attendant safety hazards of blocking traffic.
Councilman Glen “Bunk” Shumaker noted that he had imposed the ban during his term as mayor, and felt it needed to remain in place.
Councilman Clint Faulk noted problems with congestion and the risk of vehicle accidents. “I feel it’s a safety issue,” he said.