County supervisor candidate wrong on recreation claims

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 24, 2011

I read the political ad for Deborah Reul about the Warren County Recreation Board. She should have gathered more facts before making the statements that she did.

She states that the annual budget is nearly $1 million. That is correct, but only $350,000 comes from our tax base. The largest part is derived from the fees charged golfers, rental of golf carts, the use fee charged the soccer organization and finally, please note that at least one of those autonomous board members has donated $200 per month to that budget for the past five years.

Ms. Reul states that the budget is for Culkin Baseball and soccer. The budget of nearly a million dollars is for the Clear Creek Golf Course, Culkin Baseball, Vicksburg Soccer, Clear Creek Pavilion, a cross country race course for our public schools and for the boat landings at Eagle Lake, LeTourneau Landing and the Yazoo Diversion Canal. Not only does the recreation board maintain the facilities, it pays the rental and lease fees for all the land. Most land is 16th Section and those fees are paid annually to our school board.

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The largest single cost item might be the maintenance and fuel for the fleet of golf carts. Ms. Reul seems to be unaware that the golf greens are mowed every day and the fairways are mowed every other day. The athletic fields are mowed every week and the Board purchases paint to line all of those fields every week. Those are not “standard” mowing situations.

Maintenance at the Clear Creek Pavilion and the boat landings can be costly. The pavilion is often left with fish bones, chicken bones, or crawfish heads that must be picked up before the next rental and these are most often left by individuals who crash the gate and don’t pay. The trash receptacles are heavily used by locals who do not get home service and their trash is often dumped on the ground for the maintenance crews to pick up.

The boat landing can be particularly nasty when fish are cleaned and all the scrap is thrown on the ground. During hunting season, deer and squirrel entrails are left. Our citizens often shoot out the lights at the landings and on the soccer fields and they are costly to replace.

More often than you might think, young people visit Clear Creek in their four-wheel drive vehicles on rainy nights to tear up on the soccer fields and the golf course. Turf repair and replacement must be done immediately to keep the facility open and can cost several thousand dollars per incident.

Ms. Reul states that there are three lighted soccer fields and that maintenance costs are minimal because there is not even water at Strickland Field. Her inspection should have revealed that there are five lighted soccer fields and there is water for the underground irrigation system on all five.

Another high cost area is for the large amounts of fertilizer and weed control chemicals that are regularly placed on the entire golf course and athletic fields. I have served as a youth coach and volunteer for the past 30 years and have witnessed the coming and going of many county employees and board members. I have built and donated many of the tables on the golf course, soccer complex and the pavilion.

I have been familiar with how those boards functioned during those 30 years and I am compelled now to state that the current board and employees are by far the most competent and open that I have ever witnessed.

There is a public record of every dollar that they manage and it is an open record for all to see. This current board is giving us more for our money than any before.

Also, please note that city and county kids are charged the same amount regardless of where they live. I reside in District 5 within the city and am not concerned with the election within District 2.

John Turner

Warren County