November 6, 2017 9:52:00 AM
The Caledonia Park Commission held its first meeting Thursday, an occasion commission attorney Corky Smith called "the head-scratcher meeting."
The seven-member commission, appointed by the town's board of aldermen on Oct. 3, elected a chairperson (former interim Park Director Mike Savage) and treasurer (Beth Chism) and took action of a few items, including setting the date for special meeting on Nov. 20 as well as regular monthly meetings, which will be held on the first Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the town hall.
"The first meetings are always different because you are basically building things from scratch," Smith said.
The commission members include Savage, Chism, Jason Counts, Jonathan Logan, Stan Parham, Matt Egger and Jason Crest.
"State statute allows a town, city or municipality to create either an advisory park commission or separate, stand-alone park commission. The town decided to create the stand alone park commission at its meeting on Oct. 3 and it became valid after 30 days."
The commission is an autonomous body that will make all decisions regarding the town's Ola J. Pickett Park, playgrounds and recreational programs, employees and volunteers.
Savage said it will probably take a couple of meetings for the commission to get up to full speed.
"One of the priorities is to hire a park director," Savage said. "I'm not sure when that will happen, but we'd like to have that in place by the first of the year. Right now, we're in the process of setting up our bylaws, which we'll do in the special meeting and then set up fiscal meetings."
Savage said while the commission will have operational funds to carry it through the year, the commission won't have its full budget until February, when the town and county disperse money from its ad valorem taxes.
"I think there's about $130,000 from the town and another $50,000 from the county, which will give us a good working budget," Savage said.
Caledonia Mayor Mitch Wiggins said aldermen will discuss the transfer of funds from the town to the commission at its meeting on Tuesday.
"We have a line item for parks in our budget right now, so we'll discuss how we make that transition and listen to what our attorney advises us to do to transfer the account balance to the park commission's name," he said. "We want to make sure everything operates smoothly as we make this change."
Savage said the completion of the town's soccer complex, also located at the park is a top priority for the commission.
"I really believe getting the lighting at the soccer fields will the pin it all swings on," he said. "Once we get the lights that will free up the rest of the fields for baseball and other sports."
The 300-plus boys and girls currently playing in the towns' soccer program are playing on the town's park's five baseball fields until completion of the soccer fields, Savage said.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]
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