Do you plan to attend the political forum set for July 9?

Manchester Coffee County Conference Center General Manager Rebecca French reported to the Manchester PBA that the upcoming outdoor music series will be delayed, in part, because of delays in the delivery of the stage.

“We didn’t order the staging because we were told that with all the freight and shipping problems it won’t get here, so we pivoted and changed locations in our parking lot,” French said.

The conference center hopes to start holding outdoor events on Friday and Saturday night beginning in November.

French said that the center was down $994 in sales versus what was projected.

“Our cost was good, we’re down $3,000 so gross profit was up. Labor came slightly over what we projected…and advertising was higher because there were two chamber events that are hosted by Tullahoma Chamber that we are participating in and paying for,” French said.

One area that will need fiscal attention is the center’s ailing HVAC units. Recent leaks have caused some water damage to the ceilings of the center. Since 2015, the center has spent over $21,000 in HVAC repairs. The center’s seven units, which have been running since 2001-2002, are starting to wear out. She said that there needs to be a plan to replace the units. 

Manchester Mayor Marilyn Howard, in attendance at the meeting, suggested that perhaps the MPBA spend some of the $69,000 in depreciation funds that carried over from the old Coffee County PBA to the current Manchester PBA for repairs. Members of the PBA confirmed to Howard that there was an estimated $53,000 left in depreciation money.

The overall PBA budget for the month was $35,274 plus depreciation. This month, French reported the conference center came in under that at $30,538.43. The city, however, budgeted the conference center $29,000.

“We are within the MPBA budget, over the city allocations, but we are only going to request the city allocation, because I currently have more than $30,000 in December contracts over our projections,” French told the MPBA.

“After December, we have to make sure that we are all in line so that our reporting is the same. I don’t want to ask for money and hold it when the city may need it and we don’t need it now,” French said.

French said that the center had 2,656 visitors, 27 hotel room nights, and 23 events in September. She said that the stays made an almost $3,000 economic impact to the Manchester community.

According to French’s report, since the new fiscal year began July 1 the center has done $46,000 in sales and has asked for $87,000 from the city.

The year to date payroll (July 1-through September) was $88,341. Maintenance and utilities will be $19,280.

“We’re down $55,000 in sales, but we’re still open. I feel like we are doing a good job of keeping numbers and ratios in check and making sure our highest category, payroll, is being taken care of,” she said.

   For September, French said that there were $10,668 in contracts lost due to COVID-19.

“We would have had $28,000 in sales versus $17,000 if everyone that was contracted to be here came – we would have outperformed our budget,” she said.

French said that the Conference Center was denied a state Shuttered Venue Grant that the center was hoping would bolster its finances in this year’s budget by adding about 76????

French said that she had taken the matter up with the Commissioner of Tourism at the Governor’s Conference in which she attended for the conference center.

She was told that the grants were designed for fragile small businesses to ensure that they survive. 


Outdoor venue

Members of the Manchester PBA also questioned the status of the situation with Wayne Lance, who is seeking mediation concerning his one-third ownership of the property that houses the center’s outdoor wedding venue.

“I think someone is going to sue the city, or someone is going to sue the county or both,” Chairman Zach Lowry said.

Both the city and PBA are taking a “wait and see” position with Lance.

Howard said that in 2020 the city didn’t own that land.

“Mayor (Gary) Cordell is the one that signed that contract, so until (Lance) moves, we don’t plan to do anything,” she said.

Howard went on to say, “I would not have signed that contract, nor would have Mayor (Lonnie) Norman, knowing it was contested land.”

French explained that when she applied for the grant she appeared before the county Budget and Finance Committee for approval.

She said that the state’s required documentation included the deed to the property in the grant application.

“This is the area,” French told the board, pointing out the location of the property on a map “He owns one-third of acreage available. The PBA and the city and county own two-thirds. It does not specify in the deed what part of one-third or two-thirds it is,” she said.

Documents show that the county, city and Lance own the property and that the MPBA leases the real estate while the PBA does own the non-real estate property, as in the buildings.   

“We have maintained the entire acre and have spent man-hours and dollars and cleared that land ourselves. We bulldozed it, stumpground it, sodded it, put the road in. We did all that in house, we maintained the entire acreage versus maintaining just two-thirds,” French said.



John has been with the Manchester Times since May 2011. John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories. John is a 1994 graduate of Tullahoma High School, a graduate of Motlow State Community College and earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Tullahoma, enjoys painting, dancing and exploring the outdoors.

Staff Writer

Download the free Manchester Times mobile app at the app store. John has won Tennessee Press Association awards for Best News Photo and placed in numerous other categories.

Recommended for you