Boosters: We should run concessions

CLOVER -- The Clover Athletic Booster Club wants complete control of concession stands at Clover High School ball fields.

Club leaders are rallying members to attend Clover's school board meeting Monday to ask for control of the home-side concession stands, which have been run by the Clover Optimist Club for more than 50 years.

"We currently have over 150 families who are members of the Clover Athletic Booster Club," said Tim Boggs, CABC vice president. "We would like to know from the Clover school board why are they still allowing an outside group to take away from the students they are supposedly working for."

Clover is the only district in the county -- and possibly the state -- that doesn't allow the booster club to run concessions, Boggs said.

Allowing the booster club control of concessions will ensure thousands of more dollars for the athletic programs, he said.

But the Optimists say their focus is to help Clover's youth, and everything they get goes back to the community.

The Optimists donate 45 percent of proceeds back to the school, said Ken Love, the Clover school district's finance director. The school's share last fall was $8,540.

Ashby Skinnell, a longtime member of the Optimist Club, said the remaining money is used for scholarships and community projects such as youth sports and the Special Olympics.

Aside from money raised from concessions, the Optimist Club also has two barbecue fundraisers a year.

"That, and the concessions, is what pays (for) all these projects that we do," Skinnell said.

All Optimist members who work concessions are volunteers.

Clover High Principal Ron Wright said the Optimists are a community organization with a mission to support youth.

"For the 32 years that I've been in the Clover community, the Optimist Club has had a rich tradition of running the concession stands at football games," Wright said.

Skinnell hopes they can continue that tradition.

"Our club has been down there since 1955," Skinnell said. "We were the ones who started the concessions up at that school."

Boggs, whose daughter is a cheerleader for the high school, said the athletic club also would like a place to sell souvenirs. The Clover High Band Booster Club is in control of the Spirit Shack to raise money for the band, Boggs said.

"We feel the other sports teams should be able to sell sports-specific items, such as football spirit wear at the football games, and not have to sell their items out of the back of a pickup truck, at the gas station or at the local drug store," Boggs said.

Additional money that was raised would be used for athletic needs, such as tournament costs, travel expenses and purchasing equipment the school district can't afford, he said.

A similar controversy over control of concessions was brought before the school board in 2002. The board then sided in favor of the Optimists, citing its long history of service and contributions to the community.

"History tends to repeat itself," Love said. "It comes up periodically, as new folks come along and they don't understand the history and that type of thing."

The school board will meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the Clover School District Administration Building, 604 Bethel St., Clover.