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The Demolition Derby in Delta, traditionally held on July 4 evening before the fireworks, is currently in a jam. The Hinckley Lions Club is counting down precious minutes needed for organization before the big event.

 

The complication has developed over several years as the Hinckley Lions Club membership has decreased and demolition derbies’ dynamics have veered in general, according to members of the club.

“We have been hosting a successful demolition derby at the Millard County Fairgrounds for 43 years,” Skip Taylor, the Hinckley Lions Club president, said. “We have managed this event without outside help, putting in hundreds of hours of volunteer time and filling the arena beyond capacity.”

The Hinckley’s Lion Club is a service organization chartered in 1951 and has striven to provide humanitarian aid. The club works with the Millard County School nurse to help underprivileged students receive eye care. They also collect used eyeglasses and delivers them to optometrists who then read and label the glass prescriptions and deliver them to third world countries. The club has assisted families with financial help in times of tragedy or family death, donated to the Central Utah Food Bank, donated money for the training of sight dogs and given monetary donations to Sub for Santa.

In the May 2, 2017 Millard County Commission meeting, Ronda Williams, Lions Club member, expressed appreciation for help at the derby last year. She asked the commission if the numbers and letters on the north and west bleachers could be repaired. Williams said that the club paid over $1,300 for use of the facilities each year. Hinckley Lion’s Club had donated funds for improvements over the years, and the club was a non-profit organization whose monies are used to help people in the area.

“It is difficult to come up with that kind of money,” Williams said.

The commission voted to participate in the derby as they had in past years by providing equipment and helping with preparation of the area.

Williams has carried on her dad’s, Ron Webb’s volunteer work with many hours of planning, ticket sales, setup/cleanup and organization. “We just can’t do it all anymore,” she said.

“The Demolition Derby is the biggest event, out of all of the events, held in Millard County. It attracts the biggest audience, locally and from out of town,” Williams said. “This brings many tax dollars to our county, from a one-night event.”

Members from the Hinckley Lions Club contacted a commission member in October, asking to be put on the Millard County meeting agenda. At the time their goal was a proposal seeking assistance in order to continue the derby tradition, knowing full well if the derby dropped from the July Fourth date, another town would snatch the event, Williams said.

Although the stands fill and the event has been popular, Williams said, event expenses — insurance, fairground rental and prize monies awarded — leave little profit for the blood, sweat and tears the few members of the club have committed to it.

The commission met on Jan. 9 to discuss the possibility of the county taking over the derby.

Commissioner Withers said that he was approached by the Hinckley Lions Club regarding the county assuming responsibility of the derby and explained why the assistance was needed.

“Is it possible for the County to take over the operation of the derby,” Withers asked the other commissioners. “And offer a small amount of funds to the club so that they could continue to operate and provide the services that they do for the county residents?”

He said that the club felt that there might be some value in the county taking it over. County employee Kevin Morris said that he felt if the county was to assume the derby, he thought they should take full control.

“The recreation department does not want to take it over, but would be willing to do the maintenance and such to make sure the derby does not go away,” Morris said. He added that he didn’t think the County would profit from the event.

Morris said that in order to compete with other derbies like Nephi’s, event seating would need to increase and prize payout double or even triple. “It would take a lot of promoting and work to get it up and going,” said Morris.

“Often times the derby falls at the middle of the week, like it will this year, and ticket sales suffer. Many drivers only participate in the events where the payout is much bigger and worth the time and damage to their high dollar cars,” William Lister, recreation employee said.

The discussion concluded with Withers suggesting to reach out to entities that might be interested in taking the derby over.

The topic was brought up again on the Jan. 16 Millard County Commission meeting agenda. Withers said that he requested and received a proposal from the Hinckley Lions Club regarding the county assuming the demolition derby. He mentioned the various charitable services the club provides to the residents of Millard County.

“I want to see them continue and would also like to see the derby continue,” Withers said. Based on the proposal, there would be some cost saving to the county if they were to assume the derby responsibility, he said.

County Attorney Finlinson said that the insurance risk issues could be addressed at the next meeting, but any policy changes may take more time.

“Each year it is more of a hassle to get adequate insurance policies for the derby,” Finlinson said, “but if the County were to take it over, it may be easier and more direct.”

Morris said that there may be an entity willing to help with the derby, and Withers said that the county would meet with Utah Counties Indemnity Pool about insurance and the entity Morris mentioned.

“A decision needs to be made due to time restraints,” Withers said.

Taylor said that if the county were to take the derby on, the Hinckley’s Lions Club would find other avenues for future funds so that they might continue their valuable services for the community.

Commissioner Draper said that the Lions Club and Hinckley Town had done many good, and in some instances, great things and that he would like to see that continue.

“We would like to see the county take it over and make the derby great again,” said Taylor.

The topic was placed on the Feb. 6 Millard County Commission meeting agenda for further review. Ronda Williams, Lions Club member asked if anyone had looked into the insurance or followed up on derby discussions.

The commission said that nothing had been done. “I believe that this is something that Delta City should help with,” Withers said. “It is part of their celebration and this discussion should be taken to them.”

“Even though the derby falls on July Fourth, it has always been sponsored by the Hinckley Lions Club with the benefit being theirs by having so many out of town people here to celebrate,” Mayor Niles said. A meeting with the Lions Club to see if there were ways that the City could assist is scheduled.

Delta City spends months on preparations for their Fourth of July celebration and weeks getting everything set up. The time and money that the City expends is carefully budgeted, Mayor Niles said. Manpower is drained by all efforts to make the Fourth successful for the friends and families in our community.

After months with no answers, the Hinckley Lions Club is forced to begin their planning for the event. “No one wants Delta to lose the derby, but the Lions Club with their limited resources is struggling,” Williams said. “The potential for profit is still there.”