Glad to see some agreement on Fall Ride
Posted: Wed Apr 17, 2002 10:54 pm
The outcome of Friday’s City of Tomahawk License and Permits Committee meeting was encouraging. It seems an agreement has finally been reached to keep the Fall Ride on track. We would urge the city council to take the committee’s recommendation and approve the event license application.<p>The plan to use a private security company to handle certain aspects of the event represents a good compromise that cuts costs while putting more personnel on the streets. It also frees up sworn officers from crowd control duty and allows them to serve a more proactive law enforcement function.<p>The need for additional policing of the event was made evident last year by the lack of traffic control at key intersections and the unrestrained public consumption of alcohol. The event has indeed grown to the point that it is time to take a new approach to handling it.<p>Tomahawk Police Chief Don Johnson has taken considerable heat for his insistence on adequate policing for the Fall Ride. We appreciate his concerns. That’s his job, after all, to look out for the safety of people in Tomahawk, both residents and visitors. Of course he’s going to want all the help he can get to staff the Fall Ride. Don’t think for a minute that it isn’t stressful being a police officer in a crowd where you’re outnumbered more than 1,000 to one.<p>Johnson has been accused of trying to eliminate the Fall Ride. We don’t see it that way. He knows as well as anyone that he can’t stop bikers from coming to Tomahawk for one weekend in September any more than he can reverse the flow of the Wisconsin River. <p>Johnson isn’t asking for a pie-in-the-sky number of officers, either. He just wants what he feels he needs to keep a lid on the event. To actually crack down on every single violation that occurs during that weekend would require an army of officers this little community could never afford. Johnson has pledged that his department will do its best, whatever financial constraints are placed upon them.<p>The current plan is a good one, but it’s still expensive and the bottom line comes down to who will pay for the additional staffing and services for the event.<p>The Fall Ride Advisory Committee is seeking donations from the community, in particular those businesses that benefit financially from the Fall Ride. More than $7,000 has already been pledged.<p>We commend those who have stepped up to show that the event is important for the community. But, there’s still $20,000 to be raised by July 15 or the downtown street dances might not happen. It has always amazed us how the Tomahawk community can pull together to support a cause. Let’s see that happen again.<p>However, this same funding dilemma is going to come up every year. So here’s a suggestion to perpetuate the funding. Selling wristbands at the event or requesting donations from participants still seems like a good idea to raise money and build up a kitty for the following year’s event. That way, the riders can also participate in helping the Fall Ride running smoothly and safely.