May 28--When it appeared the popular Concerts by the River series would fall victim to Parks and Recreation budget cuts, a state senator stepped in to keep the music partially playing in Rhodes Ferry Park.
Jeff Dunlap, director of Parks and Recreation, said state Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, lobbied successfully for a $10,000 Community Service Grant from the state. The grant doesn't require local matching funds.
Retired Morgan County District Judge David Breland, who is now historic resource and event coordinator for Old State Bank, oversees the concerts.
"We had 15 concerts last year, and we're planning nine this year," Breland said.
The concerts will be each Monday night in June and July from 6 to 8 p.m., starting next week.
Orr said several constituents voiced disappointment to him when they heard the city would not continue funding the concerts.
"What you find with concerts in the park is a good, wholesome family event attended by all ages, from infants on blankets to senior citizens," Orr said. "It had become part of the fabric of Decatur and Morgan County. In the few times I've attended, I've seen people there from all parts of the county."
The City Council authorized Mayor Don Kyle to accept the grant at its May 12 meeting.
The budget cuts by Parks and Rec virtually did away with another free, outdoor event, Movies in the Park.
"We showed about five movies last year at different parks," Breland said. "This year we will be showing one with a Civil War theme."
He said the city is marking the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Decatur.
"The exact date or place hasn't been set, but we're hoping it will be shown in the new amphitheater in Founder's Park," Breland said. "We're hoping (the amphitheater) will be completed, and we can show it there."
The amphitheater, with a total cost of $307,000, is funded by a combination of grants, state and city funding, and a $100,000 donation from Daikin America that kick-started the project.
Breland said since the Battle of Decatur is such an important part of the city's history that funding for the film was put in the long-range planning before the budget was passed.
Ronnie Thomas can be reached at 256-340-2438 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/DD_RonnieThomas">@DD_RonnieThomas.
Concerts by the River
Decatur's Paul Stroud Concerts by the River season begins Monday with Tina Turner impersonator Dorothy Cole. Concerts continue every Monday through July 28. The free concerts begin at 6 p.m. at Rhodes Ferry Park.
Monday: Dorothy Cole & Friends
June 9: Bimini Road
June 16: Ben Parker Project
June 23: Jeff Whitlow & The Old Barn Band
June 30: Dixie Bluegrass and Robert Montgomery
July 7: Reginald Jackson and Friends
July 14: Decatur Youth Symphony and Madison Community Band
July 21: Papa Rox
July 28: Taylor McLain and Sophisticated Swingers
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