Conley questions Westphalia mayor, aldermen about car-show cancellation

By Theresa Brandt, Staff Writer
Posted 7/28/21

Westphalia Pizza Company owner Melissa Conley addressed the Westphalia Board of Aldermen at their meeting last Tuesday night regarding what was said at the June meeting, specifically, why the …

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Conley questions Westphalia mayor, aldermen about car-show cancellation

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Westphalia Pizza Company owner Melissa Conley addressed the Westphalia Board of Aldermen at their meeting last Tuesday night regarding what was said at the June meeting, specifically, why the Westphalia Car Show had not been approved.
“Regarding the comment (in the Unterrified Democrat) that the car show does not benefit the community, this town receives revenues from sales tax,” Conley began. “Those participants and spectators that come into our town purchase a meal at one of our businesses. They buy drinks. They stop at the gas station for gas or ice or whatever. They go to Joe’s Market or to the Dollar General. They put money in the town coffers which helps build up those nice reserves that were referenced in the article.
“My employees who are 10 local kids, they make bank on tips the night of the car show,” Conley continued. “These participants and spectators come back on other nights other than the night of the car show because they like the meal that they had or they liked the wine or they see something at the boutique and they pick something up from there.”
Conley said that the night of the car show is traditionally one of her best nights of the year. She contends that that night allows her to keep her staff employed and making donations to the school.
“You take away one of my best nights and my business can’t afford to support local events,” Conley said. “If I don’t generate enough business and I’m forced to cut my staff and another employee, business dries up and we close our doors.
“I think the organizers of this event have done an excellent job organizing the event every year,” Conley continued. “It was noted (in the article in the UD) by a member of this council that this event “makes our town look like shit” and another quote “all the black marks on the street make the town look trashy.” The organizers have told participants that if they burn out, they will not be able to participate in next year’s event. The organizers can’t ticket or fine violators so they are limited in their capacity to prevent that.”
Conley went on to describe other times when burnouts occurred after football games, class reunions, and just from individuals or kids. When last year’s car show was canceled at the last minute due to concerns over COVID-19, Conley had already purchased supplies and rather than take a loss for her business, Westphalia Pizza Company threw together an event.
“So yes, while it is okay to do something without permission and hold an event at our place of business, I’m not going to subject my customers to any type of harassment from any council members who are going to call the law because they think I’m going to violate it,” Conley said. “I’ve been told by the spectators of this event that they look forward to this event every year. It allows people to get out and mingle and meet their neighbors.
“In the article, it was referenced that the town had spent $400,000 on street repair due to the car show, or at least that’s the way the article made it sound,” Conley added.
She disputed that there were any street repairs made directly due to the car show.
In the UD article from June 23, 2021, Mayor Tammy Massman is quoted as saying, “We’ve spent over $400,000 over the last four years on street repairs.” This was in reference to all of the street repairs that have been done for the city of Westphalia and not associated with repairs made due to the car show.
Conley also had an issue with a comment that was made regarding there being a safety issue with the car show. “When has a member of the car show or spectator ever threatened or been in a fight during the car show?” Conley asked.
Conley went on to tell aldermen that they need to brush up on the liquor laws for the state of Missouri because they are changing and soon, to-go cups of liquor will be legal.
Mayor Massman responded to Conley later in the meeting that the board had voted unanimously to not approve the car show at the last meeting.
Conley had hoped to speak to aldermen last month before they voted on the issue but was unaware that the meeting had been moved.
“The thing is, I was for the car show at the start,” Alderman Delbert Wieberg explained. “But what (Alderman) Stanley (Heckman) said changed my mind. I’ve attended every car show and I’ve enjoyed them but the thing is, I’ve talked to other residents of this town who don’t like it and it’s a business opportunity for you.”
“It is a business opportunity for me but my business opportunity also benefits the city because the business pays into revenues and helps keeps the taxes low,” Conley countered.
“And here is what I thought on the safety issue,” Wieberg continued. “When you said there has never been an incident, you’re busy in the back (of the restaurant), you don’t even know what goes on out here. And when there are black marks they look like hell, not just for a day but for three months.
“But there’s black marks anyway,” Conley argued.
“But (the car show) entices it,” Wieberg said. “My personal thought is if you come to town and power-wash them all off then the board may have a different opinion of it. Here’s the thing, Freeburg has a car show. Argyle has a car show and they post everywhere ‘No Burnouts.’”
“And they still do it,” Heckman said.
“There is nothing saying you can’t reapply next year,” Wieberg said.
“My take is that the organizers are done with it,” Conley said.
“There is no reason you can’t have a little Friday night car show in front of your place of business,” Wieberg said. “We can’t do anything about it as long as you park properly.”
“The biggest thing with cars like that is they are their ‘babies,’” Conley said.
“And they won’t park along Main Street because they don’t want their ‘babies’ to get hurt,’” Wieberg added.
“I can’t control the public,” Conley said. “Everybody liked that it was small and local.”
“But not everybody liked it,” Wieberg said.
“And I get that there are people in the community that don’t like it,” Conley agreed.
She also took issue with the comments that were in the UD article referring to the city’s zoning ordinances. Conley argued that any changes or additions to the zoning ordinances should be made with public comments and follow established guidelines.
“And as far as the comment that was made that we need to ‘start enforcing these ordinances, otherwise it makes our town look like a hillbilly town,’ if ordinances are not being enforced what are they and what about them makes this town look ‘like a hillbilly town?’” Conley asked. “It’s hard for people to follow something if they don’t know about it. If it’s something that’s not followed by the majority of people, maybe it needs to be repealed because it doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. The biggest thing to remember is this is a farming community. The community has country charm and some of ‘the hillbilly way’ so to speak. If some of the members of this council really don’t like that we are ‘hillbilly,’ then I guess Jefferson City is 20 miles that way.”

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