Sports complex management discussed at Versailles Town Council meeting

Wanda English Burnett

“We would have had the same discussion had they (sports complex board members) been here,” John Holzer, president of the Versailles Town Council, stated at the meeting held Thursday, August 11.

A large portion of the August meeting was about problems with the management of the town’s sports complex this past season.

Holzer said he met with sports complex board members earlier in the week and was disappointed in many ways.

First he said the lines of communication between sports complex board members and the council was very poor. He used the example of no one from the sports complex board being in attendance at the present meeting as one problem.

“They were asked to be here tonight,” he said.

The sports complex board was supposed to hold regular meetings, which Holzer says they did not do. They were supposed to stay in communication with the Versailles Town Council, which Holzer said they did not do either.

Holzer referred to minutes from the council meetings where the Ripley County Soccer Club agreed to manage the concessions at the sports complex. They were to pay the town $1,000 and donate proceeds to the sports complex to start the next season.

As of the August meeting, Holzer reported that they (soccer club) has done neither. He further noted that the town was given a bill for $1,000 for mowing and maintenance at the sports complex.

“It’s completely out of hand,” Holzer said. He said there were financial discrepancies with no receipts produced.

Council member Sue Meisberger said, “They (sports complex board) didn’t do one thing we asked them to do.”

After much discussion, town attorney Larry Eaton advised the sports complex board be dissolved. There was no formal action taken on this. He noted that the sports complex needed someone with management skills.

There was discussion about getting some volunteers instead of paying for everyone’s work at the sports complex.

When asked about what he did when running the sports leagues in years past, Ben Sieverding said he used “dads of kids who were involved for umpires, etc.”

It was stated that there was a lot of confusion about who was doing what and without a job description for each person involved in the sports complex, many things didn’t get done. After the season at least 20 cases of Pepsi were dumped, according to Holzer.

Council members also stated that in the beginning they believed the sports complex board had good intentions, they just didn’t communicate well.

The council approved advertising for bids for the construction/renovation of the old fire building. The plan is to use it for a town hall, police department office, and town court office.

Carol Evans, town resident, said she didn’t think it would be big enough for a community building and questioned why they couldn’t have something like Holton or Osgood’s facilities.

Holzer said it was about the finances and what they felt they could do at this time. Otherwise, he noted, due to grants being hard to obtain right now, it might be 10 years before they could approach the idea of a grant large enough to build a community center like surrounding towns.

Evans said she just thought if they were going to spend over $200,000 for the project, it should be done right. She felt it would be too small for the town’s needs.

Holzer said the building they have now is 2400 square feet, and the new facilities would be nearly 8000 square feet.

In other business:

• The request for the American Legion to have a beer garden for the Pumpkin Show was approved unanimously. Council also approved deeding about 2.5 feet of property to the legion.

• The new contract for fire service with the Versailles Volunteer Fire Department was unanimously approved for $22,000.

• Fire Chief Ben Sieverding reported the department responded to 25 calls last month. He also noted that supplies from Homeland Security are now at the training tower for some repair work there.

• Carol Evans requested the cherry trees in several places throughout the town be trimmed.

• Steve Mathes, new council member, asked about speed limit signs on US 421. While that is a state highway, it was noted that Kevin Hensley will talk with David Furnish, supervisor for the state highway about the situation.

Marshal Joe Mann reported that Pete Stegner, reserve marshal for the town, has given his retirement notice as of August 2. “Pete has done a great job for us,” noted Meisberger, to which other council members agreed.

The marshal is researching video cameras and told the council there is a mobile unit they can purchase for about $12,000. The council will take the information under advisement.
Marshal Mann gave the report for the previous month for his department. They issued 11 citations, 39 warnings, assisted 35 citizens, responded to five fight and battery calls, five theft investigations, 5 drug/alcohol investigations, and 29 misc. responses to needs of citizens. Three warrants were served with three arrests being made. They assisted other departments seven times and had three special details for the month among other duties for a total of 177 responses.

All council members were in attendance, along with Kevin Hensley, town maintenance supervisor, Marshal Mann, Kiersten Libby, clerk treasurer, and counsel Larry Eaton.
The next regular meeting of the Versailles Town Council will be held September 8 at the town hall.