Chicken & Dumpling Dinner Controversy

Chicken & Dumpling Dinner Controversy
By: Arnold Wyrick
Coello, IL - A homemade controversy is cooking up in the town of Coello, Illinois. The former Mayor Pete Moschino came up with a fundraising dinner that quickly became known as the Coello Dumpling Dinner back in the 70's. Over the years the dinner gained popularity and profitability for the community.
Shortly after Moschino's death this summer the village fire department took over the duties of preparing and hosting the dumpling dinner. But things went sour in the past week. That's when the current Mayor Denny Harlan demanded all of the profits from the past two dinners.
"We have no money to buy what we need, we was depending on that money. We had all this money in the account from the dumpling dinners. And they took everything. And you know it wasn't right the way they done us," says Sheila Marks Secretary for Coello's Fire Department.
On average the dinners net the community around $4,000.00 each month. And village board members tell Heartland News they only served up the agreement with the fire department for one of the dinners, not all of them.
"The first one was the fundraiser. The two after that we were to divide the money, part for the fire department, part for the city. And at first they decided to make it a 70/30 split. But after we paid for all of the lights, the water, and all of that over here in the Community Center, then we were broke. We didn't have no extra money," says Board Member Wilma Roberts.
Now firefighters feel they need at least some of the profits from the dinner they work so hard on preparing, to keep their engines rolling and everyone safe.
"We figured it would help the department get the stuff we needed. The mayor told us we could keep it here and then if we needed stuff we could just get what we needed. Now they want it all. And if we need something we have to go in front of the board and ask for it," Marks said.
Coello Village Board Member Maggie Feira says the town needs things too. And they're counting on the dinners to pay for some of those projects.
"I think we should continue having them like we have. And we need to get together with the fire department and really decide what we're going to do. The city needs things too. We're working with junk. We've got a backhoe that needs worked on every time we use it, and our dump truck is about shot. But the fire department has never done without and we don't intend for them to do without now. But I think we should all work together," Feira said.
There is no dumpling dinner scheduled for December, the next one is scheduled for the second Sunday in January.