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Baseball funds discussed at Rosston council meeting

By Staff, 09/10/19 9:27 AM

ROSSTON – Much of September’s meeting of the Rosston City Council centered around the baseball park project.

Rosston Mayor Dale Quarles told the council he’d talked with Jay Click, Shelley Morehead and Blake Harrell of the Southwest Arkansas Planning and Development District (SWAPDD) about a baseball grant. He said the problem is the baseball account doesn’t have much money in it and no one seems to know who was in charge when the project began years ago.

He said the problem is in tracking the cash donations made during fundraisers for the project as there are no records. Where the grant money is concerned, he told the panel, there’s plenty of documentation at the Prescott-Nevada County Economic Development Office up to 2017, but there’s nothing after that. “I know there was a lot of fundraising, but I don’t know where the money went,” he said. “My concern is what we need to do. I don’ t know who was in charge.”

Quarles went on to say he didn’t want the project to be strictly for baseball. Originally, the plan was to have three ball parks in one location. One for baseball, another for T-ball and a third for softball. Quarles told the council he’d rather turn it into a recreation area and include other sports, such as basketball and tennis, or maybe have a pavilion where people could sit and visit.

Sally Muldrew said it was a city project to begin with.

Quarles asked if she wanted to take over at the project leader. She declined. He said former mayor Lewis Jackson wasn’t the leader, and after talking to an attorney, nobody knows anything, but, he added, there’s plenty of time to come up with a solution concerning the field. He continued saying any member of the council could take the lead.

Muldrew pointed out the man who donated the land gave it to the city for baseball fields.

Quarles agreed, but said he’d talk to an attorney to find out how and why the land was donated and what it can be used for.

In the end, no action was taken, other than Quarles saying he’ll talk to an attorney about it. The issue will be discussed at a future council meeting.

In other business, the council approved a resolution to apply for a grant through the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) for the expansion of the Rosston City Hall. He said he’s talked with Jeremy Stone and the paperwork is in place. The plan is to expand the building to include offices for the mayor and city treasurer so the office wouldn’t be as crowded.

Muldrew asked if this shouldn’t have been discussed before moving ahead. Quarles responded that costs nothing to apply for the grant, and there’s no match required from the city.

One thing not mentioned, though, was the amount of the grant.

The council, after much discussion, voted to pay Patrice Kirby $40 a month for her services as city recorder. The position, as explained by Quarles, is to record council meetings and type them up for meetings and audits.

He said while this is an elected position, she was appointed and is basically a city employee, but still needs to be paid for the work she does. Councilman Irene Tidwell suggested Quarles write down figures, as none of the council was willing to come forth with a suggested amount, pass it around and let the council decide that way.

As this was a personnel matter, it violated the Freedom of Information Act as the room wasn’t cleared, except for Kirby who was asked to wait outside. In the end, the majority voted for her to be paid $40 a month.

Quarles said it will be mandatory to record council meetings starting July 1, 2020. He said at the Arkansas Municipal League meetings the suggestion was not to get anything cheap. He suggested the council pitch in and look into different types of voice recorders that could be used. Quarles said he would like something that could be recorded onto a compact disc and flash drive.

The question was raised if this included video as well as audio recordings. He said it didn’t, at least not yet, adding he’d also like for the device to be able to accommodate microphones for each council member so they wouldn’t have to speak loud.

The panel moved on to a brief discussion of the fun park grant. Quarles said there’s about $5,000 left in the budget that can be used to build a pavilion over the bench and provide shade. He talked about how expensive it is to have someone else write grants and suggested the city find someone local to help save money.

There was also discussion of having Danny Peacock, a water system consultant, address the council about the repairs needing to be done to the city’s system. Quarles said Peacock is willing to make a presentation, adding no contract will be signed without the council’s approval, but the city needs as many options as it can get.

He also talked about setting up a presentation later in the year about a web site for the city. He said what he saw at the AML meeting showed cities have the capability of doing almost everything, including allowing people to pay their bills, on line. “Technology has taken over and we need to make some improvements. We can do it a little at a time,” he said.