Leachville Council hears ballpark update

Tuesday, April 4, 2017
Tommie Jo Kendrick, park committee member, addressed the Leachville City Council.

Tommie Jo Kendrick, member of the newly formed Leachville park committee, addressed the Leachville City Council at the March 27 meeting.

The meeting was conducted by council member Ethel Hetler who was presiding in the absence of Mayor Ralph Wells.

Kendrick expressed her appreciation to the city and to Robert Ballard and city workers for their support and work getting the ballpark and concession stand repaired and ready for the summer season.

Earlier in the year, the concession stand had been vandalized. Also, the ballpark was in need of work and it had been rumored it would not be available for the summer ball program.

The council appointed a park committee at the February meeting and they have worked to get the park in order for the season.

Kendrick said the park had received a $3,000 donation from LIDC allotted for specific work which is underway.

"We appreciate the donation," she said. "We have had a work day and the park is looking much better. We have not had any games or concession yet to raise funds so we are asking the city to help with some needed fence work."

She went on to say they need two open sections fenced in.

Kendrick was asked if the committee had elected officers and adopted bylaws.

She said they had adopted bylaws and officers are, Bryan Dawson, president; Tommie Jo Kendrick, treasurer; Drake Brown, vice president; Mark Thrasher, maintenance; Casey Shepard, safety; and Kristy Penix, is also an officer.

"The ballpark looks so much better," Kendrick said. "We are still working on it."

Drake Brown asked if the city would put the lighting in the city's name and pay the bills allowing the committee to have some games and raise some money.

Ruth Ann Keith, city clerk, said the city officials had agreed to pay the light bill for this summer while the program is getting up and running again.

Hetler said they appreciate the fact the committee will be overseeing the park when the lights are on.

"We are starting with zero dollars and we are volunteering," Kendrick said. "We could always use more help."

Councilwoman Teresa Johnson commended them for doing a good job.

Hetler said the city had spent $1,075 this month and $700 last month on the park.

"That sounds cheap to me to keep our kids playing ball in Leachville," Councilman Richie Pace said.

Ruth Ann Keith gave the financial report with balances from each department. Total funds available are $57,385.11.

Councilman Rodney Robertson asked about checking with the bank to see about an increase in interest on the certificates of deposit.

"One quarter of a percent is that much," Robertson said.

Keith will check into it.

Keith updated the council on the insurance claim for the Melody Theater which was damaged by fire during a recent storm.

"Ryan Markus from Oklahoma, an underwriter for the Municipal League Insurance, was in town and viewed the damage," Keith said. "He will get with the Municipal League appraiser and insurance director and compare numbers. The city will be contacted about the amount it will receive. He did say there was a lot of damage and a lot of work. He also said he would notify us if the state fire marshal needs to visit. He said sometimes in large claims it is necessary."

Johnson asked why there was so much confusion on the insurance and getting the clean up started.

Keith said Mr. Markus did advise the city to advertise for bids for stage lighting and sound system.

Councilman Keith Evans made a motion to take bids for stage lighting and sound system but following a discussion he rescinded the motion.

It was decided it would be difficult to get anyone to bid on a sound system or a lighting system until the building was repaired.

Lt. Brandon Womack presented council members a copy of the police actions for the month.

Lt. Womack informed the council the department had received a $3,500 grant. He asked about using the money to purchase four body cameras. For the cameras and mounts, the total estimate was $4,100.

"This is something that will protect us and protect the citizens," Womack said.

Councilman Evans noted to make the purchase without the mounts, which could be purchased later, would reduce the cost by $500.

Councilman Evans made the motion to purchase the cameras with the grant funds and later go back and look at the mounts when funds become available.

His motion passed unanimously.

Lt. Womack asked about the collection of fines. He said he is not comfortable taking money. Following the discussion, he said he would check and report back to the council if fines can be collected at Mississippi County jail facility on weekends and after hours.

Councilman Evans said he knew where Womack was coming from.

"When I was a police officer I didn't like to handle the money," Evans said.

Councilman Robertson said for Lt. Womack to check about collecting fines at the county on weekends and after hours and the court clerk can continue taking fines during the week at Leachville City Hall.

Robert Ballard, street, water and sewer manager, asked about spring clean-up. He informed the council the city had changed sanitation pick up companies. The new company is Marck's Recycling and Waste of Jonesboro.

Following a discussion on the county landfill clean-up date which gives the city a reduced rate for tipping fees, city officials set Leachville's clean-up date as April 28-29.

Keith said the clean-up cost the city $4,000 last year.

"A lot of people do not know we have a dumpster available throughout the year they can use for a small fee," Councilman Evans said. "It is very reasonable."

Fire Chief Tony Nix said they had a quote for driveway work required at the new fire station II location. It will cost $6,075. Nix said they would like approval to take it out of Act 833 funds.

The council had no objection to the work being paid for through the Act 833 fund.

The station is almost complete.

Councilwoman Lisa Baldridge gave several dates for upcoming events.

*Make Leachville Beautiful will be held April 8 beginning at 8 a.m. It is hosted by the Leachville Foundation, Inc. Volunteers will meet at the Leachville gymnasium. They will be picking up trash along the city streets.

*There will be a 5K Color Run and Walk on April 22 starting at 10 a.m. It is hosted by Tommie Jo Kendrick and Marti Robertson. Registration starts at 9:30 a.m. at the park and the race at 10. Proceeds will go to the Harvest Festival. There is a $25 fee which includes a tee shirt. For more information persons can contact Kendrick or Robertson.

*Make Leachville Cemetery Beautiful will be held starting at 8 a.m. May 13, sponsored by Councilwoman Lisa Baldridge. Baldridge said they had 30 volunteers last year. The cemetery project will be completed in time for Memorial Day.

*Wolf Stock, a day in the park, will be held starting at 10:30 a.m. May 20. Tommie Jo Kendrick and Marti Robertson are sponsoring this event to raise money to purchase a bullet proof vest for Reno, Leachville Police Department's K-9 officer. People are encouraged to bring their leashed pets to the park for a fun day. There will be drug dog demonstrations, food booths and other vendors. Plans are underway to have pets available for adoption.

During the council comments:

*Councilman Pace said he had received a lot of dog complaints.

*Councilman Hetler asked about work on the basketball court. Ballard said he had removed some of the asphalt. The concrete work will be done when weather permits.

*Councilman Robertson asked about the collection of late water bills. Ballard said he is working on it.

The next regular city council meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, April 17.

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