Buchanan’s Thrill on the Hill canceled

BUCHANAN – The Summer Thrill on the Hill tubing event is another casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Buchanan City Commissioners voted Tuesday to cancel this August’s event, although the vote wasn’t unanimous.

The Summer Thrill cancellation ended up a contentious one with commissioners speaking passionately on both sides. City Manager William Marx told commissioners he does not see how the early August event can be hosted safely given social distancing and other COVID-19 guidelines.

“We hear of events being cancelled constantly, that’s the state of things today,” Marx said. “We usually have 9,000 come over the three days and there’s no way to practice social distancing. I don’t believe we will be able to do it at that time. I held out and hoped for best, but don’t see any solution by first week of August.”

Commissioner Mark Weedon was one of two commissioners-the other being Cameron Downey-speaking in favor of holding the Summer Thrill.

“Honestly to me, this is one of the most frustrating items,” he said. “We all live on the border of a state that is currently laughing at us and enjoying the fruits of all our hard labor.

“This is the most successful event we have all year,” he added. “But we want to believe that cancelling this one event will keep us on the straight and narrow with the rest of the state. I appreciate those wanting to protect themselves and their families,” he said. “We have others who have gone to work every day but don’t want to give them any options. We just tell them to fall in line.”

Weedon argued unsuccessfully for delaying the cancellation vote for two weeks. His motion to table the decision was defeated on a two to three vote with he and Cameron Downey voting to table and Mayor Patricia Moore, Sean Denison and Dale Toerne voting no.

Marx noted that the city is only a little more than two months out from the event and there are materials to order and sponsors to recruit. He added that the city runs the event and staff is changing with the retirement of City Treasurer Juli O’Bryant and Debra Patzer going from an employee to a contracted worker.

“I don’t see the point of waiting two weeks, there won’t be a change in the number of cases and deaths to make it a good or bad decision,” Moore said. “This is very scary, I’m in the middle of a two-week self-isolation out of an abundance of caution. … Maybe in time we can figure out a way to be apart and still do things as a community.”

Denison agreed and noted that it is not the only community event being canceled as the Thursday concert series has also been canceled.

“As much as I don’t want to, we need to protect our citizens,” he said. “I don’t see how it’s going to be done safety as people wait in line.”

In other action related to the summer Thrill on the Hill, commissioners voted to transfer the $18,000 left over from the 2019 Summer Thrill to the parks department. Marx said the parks department has plans for a number of projects including building wooden castle playground equipment at two city parks.

Commissioners also approved allowing Buchanan High School to use the Thrill mobile stage for their June 5 graduation ceremony at Red Bud Track and Trail. Marx said he understands that graduates will drive up to the stage, get out of their car and get their diploma on an individual basis.

Also Tuesday, the commission approved medical and recreational marijuana facility permit applications for Redbud Roots Lab at 455 Post Road. The company will be operating medical and recreational marijuana processing facilities there.

The commission renewed the medical marijuana provisioning center permit for 221 E. Front St. and the transfer of the license to KISA Enterprises MI.

Commissioners honored retiring Treasurer Juli O’Bryant at the start of the meeting after nearly 30 years of service to the city. They appointed city bookkeeper Cathy Horner as the interim treasurer as the search continues for a new treasurer.

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