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Carnival helps fund recreation scholarships

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POSTED July 24, 2014 1:12 a.m.

LATHROP – All that Lathrop Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal wanted to do was bring some family entertainment to town. 

And thanks to the success of the annual city-sponsored carnival, his idea is now going to supplement a city fund that provides scholarships to struggling families that want their children to participate in parks and recreation department programs.

On Monday the council voted unanimously to give $3,600 of the proceeds generated by the last two carnivals – just over $16,000 – to supplement the existing scholarship budget. The Modesto Street Rod Association made a donation earlier this year of $2,500 to the account after holding its annual National Street Rods Association Appreciation Day at Valverde Park. The group has donated $50,000 over the nearly two decades that they’ve been holding the event in the community. 

Having those annual donations and available funding through California’s community development block grant program have helped the parks and recreation department build up $4,400 of the $7,500 needed to award the annual scholarships. According to director Zach Jones, the city received 129 requests from 40 different families for assistance last year and depleted all of the funds that were available. 

Rather than donating all of the carnival proceeds to the fund, the council – at the urging of councilman Steve Dresser – opted to take a more conservative approach and pick a set amount of money that’s needed to cover the costs associated with providing all of the scholarship requests that are submitted. According to Jones, the city has capped the fund’s balance at $7,500. 

The carnival, which is operated by Butler Amusements, was a gamble when the city opted to take on a portion of the production costs in order to bring a family-oriented event to the community. While the council ultimately voted to approve it, not everybody agreed that using the public’s money on such a venture was a prudent move. After the first event last year was successful, the council opted to renew the agreement with Butler for another year, and so far has banked nearly $17,000 in profits after everything cleared. 

According to City Manager Steve Salvatore, another entity might be taking over the operation and the liability of the carnival next year and it would ultimately be up to the council to agree independently upon any future donations to the scholarship fund. 

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