To the editor,
I would like to take this time to express my concern regarding the current management and staff at Glen Rose Expo Center. My encounters with Mike Dooley and Abe Comacho have been less than professional and proven to be a negative reflection on Somervell County and its staff.
My daughter, Jordan Freeman, was killed four years ago after a tragic accident involving her horse. She and her twin brother Jarett were active rodeo participants and had a true love for anything that involved horses and competition. This year would have marked the fifth annual barrel race held in her honor. As residents and active members of the Glen Rose community, we decided that moving the race to the Somervell Expo Center would be a logical step. Jordan loved to run barrels at this very place and had done so many times in her short time here. We also know that the Expo Center draws large crowds from the barrel racing community and therefore would make a positive impact on the financial gains of the barrel race. All funds that are earned through this memorial are given to Tarleton State University to disperse as rodeo scholarships. This is my family’s way of keeping Jordan’s memory alive and doing something that we know she would have loved.
I began planning this race in October of 2008. I called the Expo Center and was able to speak with Abe Comacho. Our discussion was very detailed and included terms such as arena rental price of $1,000 per day, tractor use, sound system, timers and the Expo’s $5 per entry charge due to not being an overnight event. Abe and I were able to agree on a date of October 3, 2009. I was excited to secure the facility and sent an email to all of our sponsors, former contestants and the people who help me organize and run the event. Approximately one week later, I received a phone call from Abe stating that there was a pending contract on that date and asked if I would be able to move our race to November 7, 2009. I agreed since the advance notice was timely and we didn’t foresee any conflicts. At this time I asked Abe if I needed to pay the deposit and get a copy of the contract to sign. His response was, “No it’s not necessary right now. The date is yours.” He also stated that he would contact me as time drew closer and those things were needed.
I continued making plans and ironing out details of this event with good faith commitment from the Expo Staff. This race has grown in numbers every year and takes many hours of preparation and planning. In mid May I began receiving questions regarding vendor space during the race. This was not a topic I had discussed with Abe and wasn’t sure of the correct answer. I began trying to reach Abe via telephone in order to clarify the vendor situation. I left several voicemails and never received any type of response. I continued calling until I was able to speak directly with him, at which point he told me the voicemail system was not working and he never was able to get any of the messages. As we moved forward in our conversation, he asked me again when the date of our race was. I told him November 7, 2009. At this point, Abe advised me that his general manager, Mike Dooley, had booked another event on the same date. He said he would find out more information and then call me back. I waited for an update for several days. I still heard nothing from Abe or from the staff at the Expo Center. I then tried calling him. His only response was that there was nothing he could do because Mike Dooley had booked a 4 day show. He said since that was his boss, his hands were tied.
Naturally, I wanted to speak with Mr. Dooley myself and asked if he was available. After Mr. Dooley got on the phone and I explained the situation he informed me that they were about to have a staff meeting where he would speak to Abe and then call me back later that day. I was contacted as promised but only with the response, “Abe wasn’t sure if you really wanted that date,” and that he was sorry it wasn’t available.
When I questioned why the other party did not have to move their event due to scheduling errors on the Expo’s part, Mr. Dooley became very loud and told me, “There has not been a mistake.” He went on to state that I had never booked an event at the Expo Center.
I feel like I have been lied to, deceived by the staff, and passed over for an event that would put more money in Mike Dooley’s pocket. This whole situation could have been avoided had more professional measures been utilized by Expo personnel; i.e. using a written calendar and having contracts signed immediately upon agreement.
The memory of Jordan and her love for rodeo is what keeps us promoting and producing this event. It is a shame that the word “sorry” is all that the management can come up with. Their lack of professionalism and business ethics is deplorable. Since the Expo Center is owned by the county but contracts a third party to see the day-to-day operations, I would take a risk and assume the taxpayers and elected officials are unaware of the methods being used in facility operations.
My hope is to shed light to the unfavorable perception that Dooley Management brings to Somervell County and its citizens. I anticipate that things can be made right and that more than “sorry” can come from this.