Hardin County gatherings could soon be regulated - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Hardin County gatherings could soon be regulated

ELIZABETHTOWN, IL (KFVS) - The organizer of gatherings and  biker rallies at Hog Rock Campground in Hardin County could soon have to have a license to host the events.

On Friday Sate Representative Brandon Phelps-(D) 118th District proposed HB 5479. The legislation would give counties where the population is 35,000 or less the right to pass an ordinance or resolution to require anyone planning a mass gathering to get a license.

If passed the measure would also allow the county to place a tax of not more than 3 percent on each ticket to the events.

The proposal comes after years of problems for Hardin County law enforcement and emergency care from the Gathering of the Juggalos and Hog Rock biker rallies.

Over the years the events have cost the county thousands of dollars to patrol and provide care to those who have been injured or killed at the events.

"It is badly needed because our county is very poor as it is," said Sandy Vinyard manager at the Rose Hotel. "And it's a huge cost to the county. We all support Representative Phelps in doing what he can to help us."

County leaders have looked at several ways over the years to try and recoup some of the costs to county departments. And this proposed legislation could be their answer.

"They've got things happening out there that we have no control over and that's not right," said Bob Winters of Elizabethtown. "We need control. We need to know what's going on. Besides it's bringing more drugs and everything else in here to the area. So it's just not right. This used to be a nice peaceful place to live."

Some business owners worry though about what impact the proposed measure may have on the future of their business and the county.

Which is why some residents say they don't want to see county leaders move too quickly, if the legislation passes in the General Assembly.

"I think there needs to be a lot of thought and planning going into it," said Margie Hobbs of Elizabethtown. " Because it will effect a number of people here in the county. And I hope they do their best on an ordinance that will do the best for the community."

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