Last week, students in this year’s Monroe County startUP class received a first-hand lesson about the best-laid plans of mice and men.
An effort to secure a venue for a class project went awry last Tuesday when the Valmeyer Village Board denied a request to use a space in the Rock City development caves for a music concert.
On Dec. 20, the class presented its plan to the board, which would have brought a Nashville recording artist to the caves this February for a “once-in-a-lifetime” concert experience.
While the startUP students had plenty of research regarding logistics of the concert itself – including a test of the site’s acoustics – questions were raised about liability insurance, acquiring security personnel and other issues.
Village trustees tabled the matter until the Jan. 3 meeting, during which the students were told their request was being denied due to safety concerns.
Valmeyer Village Administrator Dennis Knobloch explained that the space needed at Rock City to accommodate up to 700 guests, portable restrooms and concessions was in an area that presented a unique hazard.
During the initial development of Rock City, geological engineers studied the various strata of rock in the caves. In areas slated for business spaces, roof bolts were installed to stabilize the rock ceiling.
Knobloch – noting the installation of the roof bolts is “not an inexpensive process” – told the students no development was planned for the concert area, and therefore only about 50 percent of the overhead space is secured.
In the areas where the bolts are not present, the possibility exists for parts of the rock ceiling to become dislodged and potentially injure concert patrons.
Without being able to guarantee the safety of visitors, the village denied the class’s request to use the Rock City caves.
The startUP students are now presented with the challenge of developing a new money-making event within the next couple of months.
The class relies on its winter class project to fund individual student entrepreneurial endeavors later in the semester.
In past years, successful projects to raise startup capital included a 5K race in the Rock City caves as well as last year’s “Monroe County on Ice” event in the parking lot of Columbia City Hall.
This year’s project planning is back to square one, although Monroe County startUP program facilitator Jamie Matthews said the class is workshopping a few ideas.
“(Wednesday) morning they will be proposing their new idea to the (startUP) board for approval and feedback, with hopes of having something finalized by the end of this week, “ Matthews reported.
In other news from the Dec. 20 meeting, Tim Stubblefield was introduced as Valmeyer’s newest village attorney.
Stubblefield replaces longtime village attorney Myron Hanna, who retired from the position late last year.