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Pepsi contract approved

Beverage company pays more than $10,000 for a three-year monopoly

Josh Nichols

For the next three years students and teachers who want a soda at Moffat County High School will have one line of products to choose from in machines at the school.

They’ll only be able to buy Pepsi.

At Monday night’s Moffat County Board of Education meeting, board members approved a three-year, $10,725 contract with Pepsi, giving the company sole distribution rights in the high school and at any high school athletic event.

After the issue had been discussed in the meeting’s “Let’s Listen” session, board member Steve Hafey made a motion to accept a three-year contract, while Rod Durham seconded the motion.

Board members John Wellman, Hafey and Durham voted in favor of accepting the Pepsi sponsorship, while Phil Hastings and Jerry Magas voted against.

Board members Gary Ellgen and John Kinkaid were not present at Monday’s meeting.

At last month’s meeting, Hillary Heid-Gander, key account manager for Pepsi, had come before the board with a seven-year, $25,000 contract proposal.

At that meeting board members tabled a decision until they could get more community feedback.

The three-year and seven-year contracts were on the table at Monday’s meeting, but district Superintendent Pete Bergmann encouraged board members to go with the three year.

“We don’t have a seven-year contract with any entity in the school district at this time,” Bergmann said. “I would recommend that you don’t sign a contract that has a length of seven years.”

Moffat County High School Principal Jane Krogman agreed.

“I would agree that a seven-year contract is a long time and I would urge you not to sign a seven-year contract, while I don’t disagree with a three-year contract,” she told board members Monday night.

Moffat County High School Athletic Director Jim Loughran, who had initiated the discussions with Pepsi, said that a three-year contract was a better idea.

“I think we should do it,” Loughran said. “I agree that a three-year contract is better to test than a seven-year contract.”

Vicki Burns, a member of the Moffat County High School Booster Club, was the sole community member who spoke on the issue at Monday’s meeting.

She encouraged the board to accept the proposal.

“This would be an opportunity to enhance the programs without having to go to the tax payers,” Burns said. “It’s a win-win situation. A lot of colleges and schools across the state are taking advantage of corporate sponsorship and it’s time Moffat County does it also.”

It would be a mistake not to enter into the contract, she said.

“I think it would be a mistake not to enter into an agreement that could benefit the schools,” Burns said. “I would encourage you to vote in favor of at least a three-year contract.”

Loughran said the high school would not be plastered with Pepsi advertisements.

“It’s something that is needed to boost Moffat County athletics,” he said. “The advertisement aspect is not a problem. It’s already on the machines and that is the extent that Pepsi is asking.”

At last month’s meeting it was suggested that a Pepsi banner might be hung on the front of the scorer’s table at wrestling meets, but that was just a suggestion and is not in the contract, Loughran said.

Board member Jerry Magas, who voted against accepting the contract, said community feedback he received was all against accepting the offer.

“I guess I hang around a tough crowd,” he said. “They are all against it. To me it’s a cop out and a sell out. I think we’re sending the wrong message.”

But board member John Wellman, who was not outspoken on either side of the issue throughout the discussions, said before the vote that he did not see a problem with accepting money from Pepsi.

“One person has said to me how can you ask us for more money when you turn down money from someone,” he said. “The kicker for me is I’m willing to risk three years on something that’s never been tried before. I don’t think we can turn it down. We can at least try it.”

Board member Steve Hafey was for accepting a contract from the beginning.

“I think we have a responsibility to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “I have not talked to anybody who is not for it.”

After the decision, Loughran said signing a three-year contract was a good start. He said the reason a seven-year contract was originally on the table was because he went to Pepsi and told them how much money the district would like to have and asked what it would take to get that money.

“We told her (Heid-Gander) how much money we wanted and asked what it would take to get that money,” Loughran said. “That’s how we got the seven years.”

But he said he was happy the three-year contract was approved.

“It’s a good start,” Loughran said. “We need to test corporate sponsorship and see how it will benefit the schools and kids and make a decision on what we have to do in the future.”

Heid-Gander said it is not unusual for school district to be torn on whether to accept corporate sponsorship.

“There’s always this much consideration,” she said. “There’s a lot that has to go into it and they want to make sure they are making a good decision.”

She said she usually has to make return visits to meetings before a decision is made.

“I’ve seen this take a really long time,” she said. “Two meetings is about average for a district this size.”

Loughran and Heid-Gander said they were both happy with the board’s decision.

“We’re happy to be partners,” Heid-Gander said.


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