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Commission sides with merchant

by Jeff Munson, Record Courier

A Genoa antique store owner will be able to hold her own craft show during the historic town’s Candy Dance celebration.

Douglas County Commissioners Thursday unanimously rejected a motion to reconsider the issuance of an outdoor festival permit to Genoa resident Martha Williams for Candy Dance weekend.

The Genoa Town Advisory Board wanted to rescind the permit issued to Williams, owner of Antiques Plus, who, for 20 years, has allowed vendors to sell wares on her property during the Candy Dance.

The Candy Dance, held the last weekend in September, draws thousands of tourists to Genoa and is the town’s main funding source.

The town board decided at its Jan. 9 meeting that more permits might be issued if Williams’ permit is not rescinded. Members think the town could lose money that it would have reaped from vendors had they paid the town instead for the permits.

Bill Donohoe, a Genoa town board member, said the county is putting the town’s ability to raise money in jeopardy. The Candy Dance cannot continue to flourish if there are additional functions, Donohoe argued.

“If you start adding extra permits, the Candy Dance will eventually die off,” Donohoe said.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office was called to the antique store during the 2000 Candy Dance on a tip that Williams was violating vending laws. Williams was in full compliance but didn’t have a permit because she was told she didn’t need one.

Genoa officials had charged that Williams was in violation of the county’s traveling merchant ordinance. However, the issue was cleared with the district attorney and the sheriff’s office and it was determined that no laws were broken.

Commissioner Don Miner said rescinding the permit would not be fair.

“I don’t think I have the moral obligation to tell someone they can’t do it,” Miner said.

Commissioners agreed and voted unanimously against the motion to rescind.

Williams, who has been associated with the Candy Dance for 21 years, plans to charge each craftsperson a small flat fee for space, remit sales tax to the state and donate a percentage of the proceeds to a local non-profit organization, Wild Horse Spirit.

“I think the decision was right, but I don’t think by any means this is the end of it,” Williams said.