MOULTRIE — The Friends of Reed Bingham voted last week not to sponsor this year’s Fourth of July fireworks at Reed Bingham State Park. A Friends official said the reluctant decision came due to hinderances by the Department of Natural Resources.

Cecil Weeks, a Friends of Reed Bingham board of directors member, said the vote came with heavy hearts but needed to be done. The Friends, who have sponsored the fireworks and other events for several years, cannot afford to sponsor the fireworks because of the DNR hampering fundraising efforts, he said.

“They’re not giving us their support,” Weeks said of the DNR. “They’re not trying to make life easier for us.”

Last year, for example, the Friends paid $11,000 for the fireworks and were able to make $6,000 in concessions, donations and other funding for the fireworks. The DNR made $4,000 from parking passes on the Fourth of July; Friends volunteers collected the money to keep state costs as low as possible, Weeks said.

For the upcoming event, Weeks said the DNR wanted to claim the concession money to pay for the fireworks. Since the DNR wanted to take funds the Friends made despite the group’s losing money at last year’s show, the Friends voted not to sponsor this year’s show.

“They’re not playing on a level field with us,” Weeks said. “The DNR is asking for our support, but it is not giving us their support.”

Donna Tillman, also representing Friends of Reed Bingham, said that DNR representatives woiuld not come to their last two meetings even though they were invited.

“Setting up a fireworks event takes a lot of advance planning, and it’s already March. You have to organize vendors and purchase the fireworks. We can’t do any of this without DNR’s approval,” she said.

She said Chet Power, former park manager who recently was fired was at their meetings for everything.

“We want Chet back. We want his staff back,” she said. “Thousands of us want them back.”

Tillman said the “Friends” are scramblng to put on the very popular Easter Egg hunt, scheduled for April 4. That event is not certain either.

“We want to hold these events despite everything that’s going on, but DNR isn’t cooperating with us. I know the interim manager was at the park during our last two meetings,” she said. “We don’t want the public to think we’ve abandoned them ... but without the DNR’s participation, we can make these things happen.”

The decision not to sponsor the Fourth of July fireworks also leaves the annual Fall Festival in jeopardy.



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