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Double Sprint Triathlon In Talks To Return To Island In 2014

Managing Editor

CAROLINA BEACH - A popular sporting event may be returning to Pleasure Island in 2014. Formerly called the Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon, the Kure Beach Town Council voted not to permit the event in 2013 after a dispute over an outstanding balance the Town claimed the organizers owed.
Earlier this month Bill Scott of Set Up Events met with Carolina Beach Town Councilman Steve Shuttleworth about bringing the event back to the Island in Carolina Beach sometime in May of 2014.
Scott wrote to Shuttleworth in an August 1st email explaining, "Thanks for meeting with me this morning. I’m excited about the potential for brining the Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon back to the area and re-naming it the Carolina Beach Double Sprint. This is an iconic race on the local and regional triathlon landscape. We started that race in 1997 and staged the event successfully every year through 2012. It also would become the ONLY ocean swim triathlon that we produce in our highly successful North Carolina Triathlon Series – which this race would become a part of again."
Scott explained, "As we discussed, the weekend that we have free is May10/11, 2014 – with the race being on Saturday (10th)."
Scott said the 2012 event in Kure Beach had 543 registrations. Of those, 186 were from the 284 zip code who did not require lodging. There were 291 people registered from everywhere else in North Carolina and three people from other states. He explained the total of people who came to the area requiring lodging was 357.
Scott explained, "There is no question that if we get the local hotels/motels and rental companies onboard early we can drive lots of business their way. These people are coming in for the weekend in large part because this race is at a beach destination and they want to make a beach weekend out of it. The majority of these people are going to want to stay in Carolina Beach as close to the race site as possible."
He explained, "I think we have designed a course that provides the least amount of negative impact on local residents and motorists. As far as services that we would need from the town – Set Up Events is prepared to produce this event with NO financial impact on the Town of Carolina Beach. We would contract with and pay directly the local lifeguards, the police, EMS/medical support, and any equipment that we would require (port-a-lets, etc.). We would fully expect to work with a designated town liaison to make sure we are doing everything the way the town wants things done."
Scott wrote, "I look forward to the opportunity of presenting to the Town Council at your upcoming August meeting."
Brenda Butler, in charge of coordinating special events held in Carolina Beach, said Tuesday there is already a sporting event scheduled for the time indicated by Scott in May and another date would likely have to be selected.
The Kure Beach Town Council voted in August 2012 to require the organizers of the annual Kure Beach Triathlon to pay an outstanding balance to the Town as well as discuss event related fees prior to permitting a 2013 event. The organizers had to pay the remaining $240 owed to the Town by August 31. That payment never came and on September 18, 2012 the Council voted not to permit an event in 2013.
That year's event was held on June 2 marking the 15th year of the event in Kure Beach.
In July 2012 the Kure Beach Council voted to send another invoice to the event organizers asking them to pay the remaining $240 balance to the Town for services such as police, fire and public works. The event organizers took issue with several items on the original bill.
Bill Scott - of Setup Events - wrote to event participants in an email, "We’re trying to salvage the Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon. This is an iconic event in the Inside-Out Sports NCTS. In 2012 we held the race for the sixteenth consecutive year. Kure Beach was the very first triathlon in the U.S. to offer up the unusual format; swim, run, bike, run, swim.  The race has capped out at 500 participants for the past ten years (we only had 480 in 2012)." He explained, " This year, when all the planning was said and done, and with only two weeks to go before race day, we received an invoice from the town of Kure Beach for more than twice the amount of what we are normally charged for their services (park rental, police support, etc).  In reviewing the invoice it was very clear that there were some trumped up charges included. During the July Town Council meeting, I went before Council to dispute these charges and to let them know that they were out of line with anything we have paid in the past and also much higher than fees we pay in other communities in which we produce races."
He asked people in his letter to email the Town showing support for the event.
The Town of Kure Beach received some 72 emails expressing support.
In a response to those emails the Town issued a statement, "The total fees that the Town of Kure Beach charged for this year's triathlon were $1,860.00. Mr. Scott [The event organizer] has not paid $240 of that bill. At the July Town Council meeting, Mr. Scott discussed with the Council his position that the Town was charging excessive fees for his event. He was directed to put in his application for next year's event, so that the Council could work with him on reaching agreement to prevent this issue from occurring again. Additionally, Council directed staff to re-invoice Set Up Events for the remaining $240. In 2010, the Town charged $2,250 for the event and in 2011, the Town charged $2,400."
At the Kure Beach Town Council's September 18, 2012 meeting Councilman Chuck Keener asked if the $240 had been paid. The Town finance officer said payment had not been received.
Keener said at the August 15, meeting the Council met with Mr. Scott and after lengthy discussion and debate voted to keep their fees the same and require the payment prior to considering approving a permit for the 2013 event.
Keener made a motion to deny the 2013 permit. Councilman David Heglar seconded that motion and the Council voted unanimously.
The Council said even if the $240 was paid at a later date, a permit would not be issued. Mayor Dean Lambeth stated, "No, he's missed his deadlines for everything."
Councilman David Heglar said "It will not be reconsidered for 2013. He can come back next year if he wants to do it for 2014." The Council voted unanimously.
Scott previously argued over fees charged for items like police officer hours and vehicles, fire fighter hours, tent inspection fees and others.
The Council sets event fees at budget time for all events wishing to be held in Kure Beach.
Scott said, "I'm going back to the original $3,900 invoice that was changed down to $1,860 of which $240 was disputed." He said the original $3,900 invoice was, "Explained to you folks as a simple accounting error and our contention is it was not a simple accounting error. Our contention is it was intentional."
Scott said if he had not caught the error, the Town would have cashed the check and, "I guarantee you we would not have gotten a credit because of a simple accounting error being found."
The Council took issue with that accusation.
The Town of Kure Beach Lifeguard program and Step Up for Soldiers planned to hold a similar event in 2013.
In May 2013 Tom Russell wrote into the Island Gazette explaining the event had been canceled. Russell explained, "The Truth in Triathlon - Step Up For Soldiers WILL NOT HOLD the Double Sprint Triathlon this June 2013 in the Town of Kure Beach. The reasons to follow. I apologize to athletes who have signed up for our first Triathlon, sorry if we ruined your weekend. I want to thank you for your support of this charity, we will do our best to make sure this does not happen again. We plan to have a meeting with this event company in a few weeks in hopes of preventing this kind of problem again. Sometime in February I was made aware of a problem with an event planning company and the Town of Kure Beach. A Town Commissioner asked If Step Up would like to organize a Triathlon in Kure Beach; I agreed to give it a try."
Russell explained, "I asked the Head Life Guard (Ocean Rescue) if they would share this event with Step Up For Soldiers. Both organizations are all volunteer organizations returning all money to their charity. Let's start with a correction of what appeared on an Event Planning site and event application page. Step Up For Soldiers DID NOT and WAS NOT part of any takeover of a triathlon date. As far
as I know the Town of Kure Beach did not plan on TAKING OVER this event. Our two charities Step Up For Soldiers and Kure Beach Fire Department Ocean Rescue planned to have a fundraiser. The date was open due to a conflict with the Town of Kure Beach and the event planning company not being able to come to agreement on past invoices (as far as I know)."
Russell explained, "The event planning company has every right to run events for a profit, we still live in America. Our military fight for his right to prosper. My humble opinion the Channel swim was organized to hurt our event in Kure Beach and thus hurt our charities. Step Up For Soldiers is an all volunteer organization, no Board members get paid, and there are NO salaries. We are here to assist the young Military Service Members and their families returning with loss of limb and mobility issues. In my opinion Step Up For Soldiers has been targeted because we attempted to hold a Triathlon in the forbidden town of Kure Beach. I cannot take the chance to lose money the charity raised so we have to cancel this event until we can get a date that is free from aggression from outside organizations."
Russell explained, " If Step Up For Soldiers were a business I would continue with this event, but I cannot jeopardize Step Up For Soldiers treasury to fight an untruth and injustice. We raise money so that we can assist our wounded service members not fight with angry organizations. For these reason we will refund all money and apologize to those athletes who signed up for our event. Most important Keep Training, it makes us better people."
Brenda Butler will make a presentation at the Carolina Beach Town Council's August 13, meeting regarding an "Events Update" and will speak about the Triathlon. That meeting starts at 6:30PM at Town Hall in the Council meeting room.