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Mills River says yes to brewery, no to beer

MILLS RIVER — An offer from Mills River's most high-profile employer to raise money for the Town Park with an event that sold its signature product was not enough to persuade the Town Council.

The Mills River Town Council last week shut the door on all alcohol consumption at the park, refusing an offer from the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. to sponsor a fundraiser that would have included bands, food and beer.
The council last Thursday ratified an agreement it had made after a long discussion on Feb. 27 about the use of alcohol in the park. Although the Park Committee recommended from the start that the town ban alcohol, the council had amended the proposed rules to allow it on a case by case basis that the council would decide.
During the Feb. 27 meeting, the council had a wide-ranging discussion about the new Rhythm & Brews event sponsored by the city of Hendersonville, the ban on tobacco use in the Town Park and "how there was little difference between the two, the inappropriateness of serving alcohol where children play and the difficulty of approving some events with alcohol and not others," according to minutes of the discussion.
The new park rules adopted last week without discussion enacted the absolute ban, striking the phrase "except as specifically permitted by the Town Council."
Former Council member and Mills Recreation Foundation member Lois Pryor said she didn't know if Sierra Nevada would be willing to hold the event without the sale of its product. "The suggestion that their advertising would be welcome was made," the minutes said.
The Recreation Foundation sent the fundraising ideas to the Town Council for its blessing.
In two other park fundraising matters, the Town Council authorized an antique car show to benefit the park and accepted an offer from Pardee Hospital to sponsor banners at the park. Under the agreement, Pardee will buy, install and maintain the banners for up to three years and replace or repair them if they become damaged. The hospital agreed to pay $125 per pole and plans 12 to 15 banners, Town Manager Jaime Laughter said.
"Mayor Freeman is concerned that sponsors seem to develop the attitude that they own the park and asked if Council would like to set some kind of limits on sponsorships," the minutes said.
The council agreed that it would take up future requests on a case-by-case basis.
The sponsorship discussions come as the town and its recreation foundation are trying to raise $225,000 to match a $100,000 grant from Flavor 1st, the farming and produce packing company owned by the Johnson family, to build softball fields in Phase 2 of park development.
"We have been generating ideas for how to raise money in support of the park this summer, but we wanted to make sure that the methods we use would be acceptable to the Town so that our partnership is able to better benefit the community," Mills River Recreation Foundation President Jollene Austin said in a news release.