Soccer club responds

Wanda English Burnett

Communication was flowing at a special called meeting between the Versailles Town Council and members of the Ripley County Soccer Club (RCSC) and Sports Complex Board on Wednesday, August 24.

The meeting was the result of a front page article which appeared in The Versailles Republican August 18 which reported on the Versailles Town Council meeting.

Andi Richter, representing the soccer club began by referring to the article where she said the newspaper only heard from one side. She presented a Letter to the Editor, which was published August 25 expressing the soccer club’s feelings on the meeting.

The soccer club wanted the special meeting so the newspaper and the public could hear their side of the story.

Richter referred to the article saying, “It looked like we (RCSC) stole your money.”

Town Council member Steve Mathes told those gathered that the town never felt there was anything done on the part of the soccer club or the sports complex board that was illegal.

After the initial town council meeting on August 11 the soccer club paid the town $1,000 on August 12. At the special called meeting on August 24 Richter gave the remaining proceeds to the town. She said doing the concessions was a “time consuming monster” and if she had known the money the soccer club made there would be put back into the baseball fields, she would have never volunteered her time. She noted that she understood the proceeds would be put into a fund to help make the soccer fields a reality at the sports complex. Right now there are three baseball fields, a concession house with bathrooms, picnic shelters, but no soccer fields.

Richter told the council she was hurt because the way it was stated at the meeting it looked like she was withholding funds.

DeDe Fields, also a member of the RCSC said, “Our image has been hurt.”

Richter said after they met with the town council on Monday, August 8 they thought everything was okay. Then, after the article appeared in The Versailles Republican, they found out the council was not happy with what they had done, according to Richter. She felt the town council shouldn’t have said anything about the soccer club unless they were at the meeting so both sides could be heard. She admitted they were invited to the public meeting, but couldn’t attend. Fields pointed out it was the same night as the open house at South Ripley.

The RCSC addressed the issue of the town saying 20 cases of Pepsi had been thrown out. The soccer club contends that the Pepsi products were from the year before and had nothing to do with them running the concessions this past season.

Richter said they know they haven’t communicated with the town council the way they should have, but she said the council had not even appointed a sports complex board. “Where is your responsibility in the way things are running?” she asked the council.

Richter raised questions about initial monies that were meant to purchase high quality topsoil for the fields. She said $33,000 was supposed to go toward the soccer fields and didn’t understand where it went.

Tim Wolff, also connected with the soccer club, said the topsoil wasn’t top quality and therefore has washed off the fields. He said the fields weren’t installed properly in the first place and he has spent a lot of time fixing them.

Wolff said people were forgetting about the focus of the whole sports program in the county. “We’re doin’ it for the kids,” he expressed. He questioned padlocks on the doors at the sports complex. He also addressed the problem with handicap access.

An ordinance was established concerning the sports complex in July of 2010. In the ordinance it stated there would be four members on the board and they would be from the Town of Versailles.

There was some question as to whether the sports complex board had ever been put into place by the council. But, Don Tankersley, who was president of the sports complex board, was at the meeting.
Both Richter and Fields, along with John Brison, expressed their feelings about people on the board only being from the Town of Versailles. Attorney Larry Eaton said it was a state statute...”legally, this is how it is,” he noted.

Richter said it was sad that she has worked a long time and because she lives a half mile away from town can’t serve on the board. Fields said it was disappointing. She said, “I want our program (soccer) to be folded into the town.”

The town had questioned the bill they received for mowing at the sports complex at the regular meeting earlier in the month. Wolff responded to that by saying he was told he would be paid and to submit the bill to the town. There was some discussion about whether the town had always paid for the sports park to be mowed, with Meisberger saying it wasn’t always paid. She said she realizes times are different now and people’s time is valuable.

The town council noted they have not appointed anyone yet for next year’s park board, but will be doing so in the near future. They will also appoint someone to run the sports complex. Don Tankersley asked that Wolff be considered for the position.

Don Tankersley, former sports complex board president, spoke saying, “Everybody in this room is here to make it (sports programs) go.” He said he was proud to be part of getting it going, and noted that Richter and Fields were great in their efforts to further soccer. He apologized to both sides - the soccer club and the town council - for the communication failure. While they didn’t have “sit down” meetings, the group did get together, make decisions, and said they did the best they could for the betterment of the kids involved in the sports program.

The problem of getting people to volunteer was raised with the knowledge that volunteerism is a dying thing in many towns across the country. Soccer club members told of their countless hours of volunteering.

Holzer said, “No one is questioning your volunteerism.” He said he wants the soccer fields developed also, but it all boils down to having the money to do so. He asked that they keep their enthusiasm for the sports program.

Sue Meisberger, Versailles town council member noted that this is a new venture for the town. “You guys worked really hard,” she noted.

The meeting closed with Richter saying all the soccer games are now held at Ohio Rod Products where the club pays $1,000 a year for mowing. The soccer club has applied and has been given grant monies they have used to develop the fields at Ohio Rod. Club members expressed their desire to be at the new sports complex. “We really, really want to come out there,” Richter concluded.

In the end the feeling in the room was that everyone had the same goal in mind, to make the sports complex the best it can be for the kids in the area.

The goal from the perspective of town council member Steve Mathes was that everyone would feel better when they left the meeting and questions would be answered.

The goal from the perspective of the soccer club was that the public would know they hadn’t done anything illegal and were acting in the best interest of the soccer club participants.

All were in agreement that more volunteers are needed to keep the programs running smoothly.