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Pribble Makes Her Case for an Arts Council, Citizens in Support: The 5 Tells Her, "Come Back"

COLUMBIA COUNTY, FL – Turned down by County Manager Ben Scott for funding, Christa Pribble told The County 5 that she took off 4 hours from her job on Thursday afternoon to prepare for last night's meeting. Ms. Pribble has been on a continuing quest to get funding for an Arts Council, which she again claimed as she did in August, that art will give "at-risk youth pathways to success." With local citizens speaking in support, this time The 5 seemed more receptive as they peppered her with questions. The 5 did not approve the $4,000 for which she was asking.

The Public Weighs In

Before Ms. Pribble came to the microphone to present her case for a Citizens Arts Council, the public weighed in.

Ralph Kitchens, a retired over-the-road trucker and a resident of Commissioner Nash's District 3, addressed Com. Nash and The 5, "I would urge you, Commissioner Nash, to reconsider the Board’s (sic - County Manager's) decision not to fund the Arts Council for Columbia County. I think the Arts Council is something we ought to take a look at with a little more seriousness than just snubbing her off. Maybe if we had a little more arts and culture in the County, we would see more folks here to see what we do."

Sandra Buck-Camp, a retired pharmacist and UF graduate, addressed the County 5, "I am particularly distressed by Mr. Scott’s response in the fact that he immediately dismissed it. When I attended the University of Florida, as an undergraduate, it was mandatory that we had art and literature... I don’t understand that the County spent $335,000 for a bulldozer [dump truck] when the electrical and air conditioning did not function properly, because someone was not able to fix it... and you can’t afford $4,000 for an Arts Council? That does not make sense... Why can you not afford to get something started that would be beneficial overall to the community?"

Late last night by phone, Barbara Jeffords Lemley told the Observer, "I was sorry I couldn't make the meeting. I support Ms. Pribble's request for the $4,000. She is bringing a new energy to the community. We need her and art."

Via email early this morning, Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson of Rum 138, who also couldn't attend the meeting, wrote, "The arts have historically improved communities throughout the United Sates. I most certainly would have approved $4000 to Mrs. Pribble's case. It is our community and we need more arts. Make that grant to the arts to Mrs. Pribble."

Christa Pribble: she made her case for art

Cool under fire, Ms. Pribble answered every question The 5 threw at her.

Ms. Pribble came to the microphone. She explained that she had taken off 4 hours from work to prepare for the evening's meeting. She asked The 5 reconsider the decision to deny funding to Columbia Citizens for an Arts Council.

Her written presentation, which she verbalized, concentrated on the following:

Kids Win: "In the presentation presented in August 2015, I believe I showed that we are denying our at-risk youth a number of pathways to success. Every child needs a pathway to success. I believe it is government's role to open the gates to these pathways, the parents' job to pave the way, and community members' job to ensure this path is safe and healthy, so we can all reap the benefits of successful adults and successful parents in the future. A community of this size, 68k and counting, should have gates wide open for every student and every viable pathway to success."

Economy Wins: "When we enrich our children's lives with an Arts Council (increasing likelihood of college and decreasing likelihood of risk-taking behaviors), we can also enrich our economy. By adding recreation and cultural opportunities to shop, play, and be local, we strengthen the downtown economy. By adding ways to attract and maintain high-skill workers, we strengthen employer draws to the area. By committing resources to culture, we give more reasons to stay the night in Lake City."

The County Wins: By funding Columbia Citizens for an Arts Council, you will be giving the message to your constituents that you are committed to proactive governance that includes planning for the success and vibrant future of each and every citizen you serve.

The County 5 Responded

Ms. Pribble was peppered with questions for over 10 minutes. She held her own, was responsive and courteous, and in the end she seemed to win over The 5.

County Attorney Joel Foreman offered to advise her in setting up a nonprofit. He said in order to avoid the appearance of any conflict he couldn’t do the actual legal work.

County Manager Ben Scott offered to help her with an application to the Tourist Development Council for funding.

The County 5 told Ms. Pribble to come back when she was set up.

While it looked encouraging, The 5 did not commit to the funding.


Scott Koons, the Executive Director of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council told the Observer that he thought the Planning Council would be interested in Ms. Pribble's ideas for a regional rural arts council and its impact on at-risk youth.

Director Koons said he would be requesting that Ms. Pribble be added to the Planning Council's December 10 meeting agenda so that she may share some of her ideas with the Council members.

Image: Art Matters

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