Organizers says Lt. Dan Week will return Beaufort County accommodation tax money

emoody@beaufortgazette.comMay 7, 2013 

In this Beaufort Gazette file photo, Gary Sinise entertains a crowd gathered near the stage at the start of the 2010 Shrimp Festival and Lt. Dan Weekend at Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park in downtown Beaufort.

STAFF PHOTO

The leader of the group that conducts the Lt. Dan Week has agreed to give back an accommodations-tax grant from Beaufort County.

The county requested the money be returned because the Lt. Dan Band concert -- the headline event of the week-long fundraiser for disabled veterans -- is slated to be moved to The Citadel in Charleston.

At least one other Lt. Dan Week event also will be held in Charleston, and more changes could be on the way.

"We're happy to return the money, if that's what Beaufort County desires," Independence Fund founder Steve Danyluk said, adding that he would cut a check to the county as soon as he knows what address to send it to.

The move of the Sept. 14 concert with Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band was announced April 12. Three days later, the county's finance committee voted to request that $13,900 grant given for the event be returned.

The accommodations tax, or "bed tax," is a levy on overnight lodging to fund programs that promote tourism or attract out-of-town visitors. Committee members felt that without the concert, the week is not enough of a tourist draw to merit the money.

The concert move was met with disappointment by some in Beaufort, including many who have been involved with the Lt. Dan fundraiser since its start four years ago.

"It's understandable that people are upset that we moved the concert to The Citadel, but we're hopeful that once people get past the initial shock, people will realize that, for the veterans and the number of people that the Independence Fund will be able to help and the amount of money we'll be able to raise, they'll see it's a good thing," Danyluk said.

The 2013 Lt. Dan Week will be Sept. 9-15. Several additional changes are in the works.

The 5K bike ride scheduled for Sept. 15 has been moved to Charleston, and the event's fishing trips are up in the air.

"It just makes sense," Danyluk said. "We're moving the veterans up there on Friday, they're going to be staying at the Marriott up there, and it would almost be cruel and unusual punishment for the veterans to make them come down there just for the bike ride at 9 a.m."

An open-house party may be held during the veterans stay at Palm Key, near Ridgeland, as a way to include the Beaufort community. A local bike ride might also be arranged.

"Honestly, we really do want to include the entire Lowcountry in this event," Danyluk said.

Tickets for the Lt. Dan Concert are expected to go on sale soon at ltdw.org.

Follow reporter Erin Moody at twitter.com/IPBG_Erin.

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