Council provides grant to THS to improve its baseball fields
by Chris Norwood
TALLADEGA — The City Council held a work session Monday before their regular meeting to discuss the last few appropriations to outside agencies. Ultimately, they decided to increase the outlay for the Red Door Kitchen from $5,000 to $10,000 and to increase the appropriation for Antique Talladega from $65,000 to $70,000.

Antique Talladega had requested $80,000. Councilman Horace Patterson said he knew this was not plausible.

Councilman Jarvis Elston also suggested an additional $5,000 for the Senior Rx program, but this was level funded due to some questions about a revised economic statement. The organization initially said it had 178 contracts in Talladega, then revised the figure to 241 people who saved $320,000 on medications.

City Manager Brian Muenger said he would be pushing all of the outside organizations the city donates to become more independent, especially those that rely primarily on funding from public agencies. Council President Donnie Miller also suggested sending letters to some agencies make them aware of grant funding opportunities.

The council normally tries to keep a $35,000 “cushion” for unexpected outlays, particularly those benefiting the city’s young people. The reserve now, with the revised appropriations, is $23,000.

During the council meeting that immediately followed the work session, the council committed $10,000 of that to provide matching funds for a grant to improve the baseball fields at Talladega High School.

According to baseball coach John Hill, the grant will come from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund of Major League Baseball. It will be in the amount of $54,000, with a 100 percent match. The team has pledged to raise $96,000 and contribute $15,200 in in-kind labor. The team is also seeking support from boosters and various local businesses. Businesses are also being approached about donating materials to bring down the overall cost.

The grant would replacing rotting wooden light poles with 37 year old transformers on them and rusted out lights, rusted and curled fencing, an unpadded brick backstop, dugouts without (state mandated) roofing, leveling out the playing field and replacing rotting and worn out bases as well as dry rotted safety netting.

The project would also add a new automatic field irrigation system, replacing existing grass and weeds with sod, purchase of industrial water hoses and transports, construction of a warning track, reconstructing the existing bullpens and additional batting cages.

Grant money could also be used on the adjacent softball field, which currently lacks restrooms, concessions and a fence.

“We want something the students can be proud of,” Hill said. “We want to work with city leaders, and not just on our program. We want to give back to the community. Will be hosting baseball camps for younger children and coaching clinics for youth sports coaches. I had 28 players try out this year, and six more come to a makeup tryout. We won 45 percent of our games last year, as opposed to 12 percent the year before that. That’s what we’re wanting to build on.”

Also Monday, the council:

• Voted 4-0 to waive vendor fees and provide tents and tables for a farmer’s market on the square every Friday in October. Elston abstained. Patterson voted in favor with the condition that the owners of a local farmer’s market be invited to attend.

• Heard a presentation from Talladega High School senior Regan Gaskin announcing that the Career Tech and BEST Robotics team will be hosting a spotlight of their program Thursday from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

• Observed a moment of silence for Bryan Townsend, who passed away over the weekend. Mayor Larry Barton requested a proclamation that could be presented to his family, and Patterson raised the possibility of creating a scholarship in his name from a language arts major from the area. All of the councilmen praised Townsend for the work he did as a speaker and teacher of the Whosoever Will men’s Sunday School class.

• Announced that the next electronic recycling day will be Saturday, Oct. 13.

• Appointed finance director Teri St. James and City Clerk Beth Cheeks to sign on all city bank accounts for the coming year.

• Approved the previously tabled demolition of a house on Moon Street.

• Renewed the lease agreement with the Department of Human Resources for five years at $33,407 per year.

• Approved a $57,538 contract with Neel-Schaffer for Phase II engineering on the Isbell Circle Bridge replacement.

• Authorized the city’s bank accounts for the new fiscal year.

• The city will old cell phones and authorized a co-payment agreement for department heads and emergency personnel.

• Removed a vehicle from the surplus list.

• Approved Parks and Recreation user agreements with the Coosa Valley Officials Association, the East Central Alabama Football officials, Zumba and the Cherry Street Church of God for concessions at the Sports Complex.

• Approved 23 weed abatement liens.

• Voted 4-0 to modify the job description of the Parks and Recreation Director to remove the residence requirement but adding a requirement that he be present for all events. Elston abstained.

• Approved the city employee holiday schedule for the new fiscal year.

• Heard Elston send condolences to the family of Talladega County Sheriff’s Deputy Jeffrey “Mo” Murray, who passed away this weekend.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.

© 2012