MOREAU — The price of running bingo games is going up for the Moreau Community Center, but it has finally gotten approval for new volunteers to work the fundraiser.
Per state law, the center must add each new volunteer to its license and get the amended license approved by the Town Board. But the board has to certify that the volunteers are of good moral character and have not been convicted of a crime.
After the board refused to sign the license, because board members didn’t know the volunteers’ character or criminal background, the community center agreed to make changes.
“Anybody we add to a license, we’re going to do the background check we do here for employees,” said Executive Director Donna Nichols.
That check, which doesn’t look at federal crimes but does include sex offenders, will cost $25 per volunteer.
The community center will pay that fee.
Then, once the list of volunteers is submitted to the town, the names will also be checked by the South Glens Falls Village Police. That check only searches the village arrest database.
“It’s not going to show one of the nation’s 10 most wanted,” Nichols said. “But I hope we don’t have any of them in our midst, and if we do, they are behaving themselves at bingo.”
The Town Board accepted the solution and has signed the amended license.
The community center runs bingo games as a weekly fundraiser to pay off a $633,000 loan after the center unwisely paid $800,000 for architectural drawings and other pre-construction costs for an elaborate new community center. It turned out to be far too expensive to be built, and the center is still paying off the cost of those plans 13 years later. It has $178,000 left on the loan.
So Nichols didn’t want to have to pay for background checks to run the fundraiser, but she said it was worth it to keep holding bingo.
“We’re looking at a little more cost. But we don’t really add that many volunteers all at once,” she said. “It might cost us $100 more a year.”
It’s not the only annoying rule she must follow for the fundraiser.
The center has to renew its bingo license every six months and send quarterly reports to the state. The reports have to list the number of games, the number of tickets (bingo boards) sold, and how much money was made, among other details.
“It’s a pain in the neck. That’s bureaucracy for you,” Nichols said.
But it’s worth it. The center raises $20,000 a year from the bingo games and concessions sold during the events.
“It’s fantastic,” Nichols said.
The community loves the games. After news broke that the Town Board had not signed the license amendment last month, many residents approached Nichols with offers to help. They suggested writing letters to either the Town Board or to the state, which could perhaps be persuaded to loosen the rules.
Games are held nearly every Thursday, starting at 5:30 p.m., at St. Michael the Archangel Church, 80 Saratoga Ave, South Glens Falls. The cost for the first bingo ticket is $3, and the center offers specials for other tickets. There’s also a full concession stand.
“It’s a night out,” Nichols said.