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Charity Event that Upset Neighbors Will Seek Proper Permission

A charity event that draws hundreds to the parking lot at John G. Carlisle School in Covington was met with anger and concern from some who live in the Old Seminary Square neighborhood nearby.

After those neighbors took their complaints to City Hall, it was revealed that Isaiah House would likely need a special event permit, something it did not have previously, and also permission from Covington Independent Public Schools to host the event at the parking lot, something else it apparently did not have.

The charity event has happened at the site or nearby for more than twenty years, organizers told The River City News, all without the proper documentation.

The complaints after last Saturday's event were the first Isaiah House ever received, organizers said.

Those complaints included cars parked on sidewalks, trash left on the ground, that two portable toilets places in the front yard of a newly constructed home that was scheduled for showings that day, and that hundreds of people from outside the Covington community descended on the neighborhood for the hand-outs.

(SEE PREVIOUSLY: Charity Event's Size Upsets Covington Neighborhood)

John Eldridge, outreach coordinator at Isaiah House, spoke to the Covington Board of Education at Wednesday night's meeting where he submitted an application to be able to continue using John G.'s parking lot. "This past week it was brought to our attention that there was no documentation here," Eldridge told the Board.

"In the twenty-something years we've been there, we've never had a complaint or had the police show up."

That changed last Saturday when multiple neighbors confronted Eldridge about the cars on the sidewalk and the portable toilets. A police officer also showed up to get the cars removed.

Board member Glenda Huff told Eldridge that she has lived in Covington for thirty-three years and has been on the Board for thirteen years and had never heard of the event.

"I love hearing that," Eldridge responded, "because it means no one has complained." 

The Board agreed to review the application and will place the item on its agenda for possible approval during the August 15 meeting. Huff requested that further precautions be taken by Isaiah House to ensure better parking solutions and to keep the portable toilets somewhere else. "That area is being presented by the city as a showplace," Huff said.

In regards to the portable toilets, Eldridge explained that the company dropped them off where the construction workers used to have them placed while working on the newly built homes. They sat there till Monday because, Eldridge said, the company did not want to pay the driver overtime to come and retrieve them.

Meanwhile, Eldridge still disputes that there was trash from his event in the neighborhood. "(The neighbors) were unwilling to show us where the problems were," he said. Eldridge said there are volunteers who are assigned to pick up trash throughout the event in addition to working in traffic crews. He agreed to put up traffic cones and no-parking signs for August's event.

Eldridge is to meet with Covington Police Chief Spike Jones on Friday.

Superintendent Alvin Garrison recommended to the Board that Isaiah House be given permission to continue their efforts after completing the proper paperwork and Eldridge expressed an interest to expand the presence of Isaiah House to other Covington campuses.

Pastor Mark Kinman of Faith Church in Park Hills, which oversees Isaiah House, said that his group was not trying to "get away with anything" and that they had permission when the event started more than two decades ago but no one ever thought to renew it. "I feel good that after twenty-four years that this is our first complaint," Kinman said.  

"For some people, it's the only smiles and hugs they see all week. We're seeing changes. I think we're doing a lot of good."

Brenda Carpernter accompanied Eldridge and Kinman to the meeting. She founded the ministry. "There's so many times that life just crushes people and they feel broken and when you can help them, love on them, pray with them if they want prayer," she said to the Board. "I'm just so glad that you are agreeable to helping us."

Huff said Isaiah House may be invited to the School Board retreat to further explore how to increase the ministry's presence on Covington campuses for events like last Saturday's.

Photo: Portable toilets on Banklick Street during Isaiah House event/RCN file