Big Run council eyes small games of chance licenses

BIG RUN — A change in state law regarding small games of chance and gun raffles was discussed at Monday’s Big Run Borough Council meeting.
Every organization that fund-raises must have a small games of chance license, said Scott Bowers, deputy chief, Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company.

“Our fire company has held a license since it first began,” he said, and that as part of the new regulations, all funds raised must be deposited into a separate account.

The state Liquor Control Board wants to keep control over and knowledge of what non-profits are making from fund-raisers for tax purposes.

“If someone wins a big chunk of money, that organization has to give the winner the form to pay their share of taxes,” Bowers said.

A meeting will be held next Monday at the Oliver Township firehall with the LCB, during which the new laws will be explained.

“They are regulating the games we can do,” Bowers said, adding that everyone who does individual 50/50 drawings at their events will no longer be able to do them. “There are people out there who are making lots of money who don’t have a small games of chance license.”

Bowers said the fire company’s costs average $100,000 per year, with a quarter of that funding coming from fire contracts with municipalities such as Big Run.

“We raise the other 75 percent through our gun raffles, boot drives and our fund drive letter,” he said. “We need our fund-raisers, and we need our people to support us to raise the other $75,000.”

Another change involves an organization that holds a small games of chance license in its own building to utilize it at various locations, so long as the fire company is involved.

At one time, the fire company gave its license to the ball team to use, Bowers said.

“As long as we helped them sell tickets, the state would honor that,” he said. But that will no longer be legal.

Bowers said the small games of chance must be held in a certain building, and organizations that don’t have a building must rent one from a group that doesn’t hold a small games of chance license.

“These organizations will not be permitted to rent a building for their function if there is already a small games of chance license held there, like our firehall,” he said.

If there’s a ball team or other type of organization that wants to hold a fund-raiser, it is not permitted to rent Big Run’s or any other fire company’s firehall if there’s already a small games of chance license on that premise, Bowers said — but it can rent a facility such as the War Memorial.

“The fire company is concerned about having another big gun raffle in Big Run,” he said. “We’ve been the only big gun raffle in Big Run, and we have a good reputation.”

Bowers said for council to talk to anyone who buys the fire company’s tickets, (and tell them) that Big Run Fire Company’s is the only one they’ll attend.

“We’ve done the right things, we’ve learned from other gun raffles, and we have a good time,” he said. “Our organization is here in Big Run 365 days a year, seven days a week, and we need this gun raffle. We cannot operate without our gun raffles.”

He said there are fire companies closing or consolidating with other fire companies all the time because a company’s survival can be a challenge today.

“It has dropped down from 300,000 fire companies throughout the state down to under 70,000 volunteer companies,” Bowers said.

Bowers asked that council help protect the fire department’s gun raffle by not allowing any other raffles in the borough.

Council President Nick Lantz said council would have to check with its solicitor to see what its options are.

Mayor Joe Buterbaugh said council wants to support the fire company, but must check into the legalities before any decision is made.

Bowers said the fire company is not opposed to the other organization and their fund-raising activities, but is trying to protect its own.

Also Monday, council:
• Approved a motion to spend up to $900 to correct the runoff on Union Street.

• Approved a motion of a request from Bob Lott and VFW Post 9044 to install a display case outside the War Memorial to display the plaques received by the late Jim Soliday for his community service.

Lott said Soliday did so much for the Big Run community, and the plaques he received should be displayed so the public can view them.

• Approved a motion to spend up to $300 to replace a drain on East Main Street.

In other business:
• Council member Rick Rinehart said that the Big Run Area Municipal Authority (BRAMA) has requested to pay the borough to plow and place anti-skid at the sewage treatment plant during winter.

Lantz said he would speak to BRAMA Chairman George Bedell about the proposal.

Council member John Smeal said it wouldn’t be any different than if the borough would plow snow for Gaskill Township.

Buterbaugh said the borough could find out how much a private contractor would charge to perform the task.

Smeal said council doesn’t want to give the perception to the community that the borough is doing it for free, especially since the sewage treatment plant isn’t located in the borough.

Rinehart said council doesn’t have to decide right now.

• Smeal said a thank-you is in order for Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Hartman, the American Red Cross and the Big Run Area Volunteer Fire Company for their help during the power outage July 7.

He said it was nice to see the new emergency lights and exit signs illuminated during the power outage at the War Memorial, which was set up as a shelter for area residents who sustained damage to their home or were without power.

• Council member Stan Derise said volunteers from the First Christian Church have purchased a toddler swing to be installed at Veterans’ Park, along with two regular swings.

He said the group also intends to create an exercise course at the park in the future.

Council approved a motion to permit the group to purchase and install a toddler swing at the park.

• Council member Larry Lambert said he looked into the cost of purchasing and installing new saloon-style stall doors in the ladies’ restroom at the War Memorial.

Lambert said it was too expensive, and that he would instead try to make them out of plywood.

He also said he would look into having the emergency generator at the War Memorial test run on a regular basis.

• Lantz said FEMA approved the borough’s hazardous mitigation plan, which will permit council to apply for funding up to 2017.

• Buterbaugh said Carmeta States, borough secretary, researched an ordinance as to whether or not McClure Cemetery Road was ever ordained, and learned that Ordinance 161 from 1983 showed the road was ordained and has been eligible for liquid fuels, which help with road upkeep and maintenance.

Lantz said McClure Cemetery Road is eligible for road maintenance just like any other street.

The next Big Run Council meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 20 at the War Memorial.