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Winter Carnival officials want funding reinstated

LAKE GEORGE Warren County should be offering more financial support to long-established events like Lake George Winter Carnival, event officials said this week. Winter Carnival Vice President Edward Kokalas voiced concerns Jan 18 to the county Board of Supervisors over his group getting its county funding reduced from more than $14,000 in 2007 to $5,000 this year. His voice edged with frustration, Kokalas said the county was spending far more on new ventures, while turning its back on those proven over the years to boost business in town. Cutting funding like this is a real slap in the face, he said, adding that the carnival provides vital wintertime income for hundreds of people. It not only hurts businesses, but it impacts students and families in the area. Established in 1961, the Lake George Winter Carnival annually attracts thousands of spectators and participants for four full weekends of racing, games, and other activities on the frozen lake. New unproven events, he said, like a womens expo and a one-day swimming marathon are getting far more support from the county, through its bed tax revenue. Supervisor Louis Tessier countered that it was the countys goal to help launch fledgling events to boost their chances of long-term success, while encouraging the older ones to become self-supporting. We received $700,000 in applications for funding this year, and had only $280,000 to spend, he said. We had to say No to a lot of people. But Kokalas replied that the county had an existing policy in determining support to count heads and beds event attendance and number of motel beds booked. He said that Lake George generated $26,000 in county bed tax revenue during the first quarter of 2007 most of it attributable to the Carnival weekends. Staffed by volunteers and offering free activities for the public, the Carnival should be getting far more than $4,000 annually in return to assure the event can continue, Carnival co-chair Chris Connelly said. The Carnival now has a basic budget of about $57,000. The event this year includes participation by student volunteers from a half-dozen schools in the area. Kokolas said the county should be considering what impact discontinuing the Carnival would have on those teens involved. The countys funding cut forced the Carnival to eliminate three-quarters of its advertising this year, he said. With less advertising, attendance is likely to suffer, he said. County supervisors said theyd review Kokalas concerns and reconsider how event funding is determined We have a meeting scheduled for February, and we may be rehashing criteria, said Warren County Board of Supervisors Chairman Fred Monroe.

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