Bazzell explains request to end recreation league contract

Published 9:51 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Dr. Mark Bazzell, superintendent of Pike County Schools, addressed the Brundidge City Council Tuesday night to discuss the Pike County Board of Education’s request to be released from the 15-year contract to run the City of Brundidge recreation program.

When the contract was signed five years ago, the City of Brundidge agreed to pay the board $75,000 a year for the first five years of the contract and $50,000 a year for the remaining 10 years. The city’s cost for running the program was about $75,000 a year.

Bazzell said there were three reasons for the board’s request to be released from the contract.

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“When the board took over the city’s recreation program the belief was that, with improvements, we could offer a recreation program that would transfer to the players in high school sports,” he said. “At the time, the facilities were inadequate to host Alabama High School Athletic events. We wanted to make capital improvements to the facilities so we could host those events. And we wanted to offer programs that would be beneficial to the kids.”

Bazzell said the plans were, in five years when the city’s financial commitment to the recreation program decreased, the board would begin charging for participation.

“That has not happened,” he said. “During the first years of the contract, the board has made capital improvements to the fields, to the dugouts and added batting cages. That is the reason we wanted control of the program because those capital improvements were needed.”

Bazzell outlined the programs that the PCBOE offers at Pike County High School and those that are on the drawing board. With all the upgrades to the programs, operating the city’s recreation program is more than the system needs to try to handle, he said.

“We need to let you do it,” he said. “The city would still be able to use the gymnasiums and the football field and, hopefully, the baseball and softball fields would be available to PCHS.

“If the board continues to operate the city’s recreation program, we will need to charge a participation fee. The board respectfully requests that the PCBOE be released from the contract.”

The council took no action on Bazzell’s request.

Fred Baxter of New Jersey was on the agenda but unable to attend. Laterah Baxter brought her brother’s business before the council.

She said Fred Baxter, a PCHS gridiron star who played at Auburn and in the NFL, is spearheading an appreciation weekend honoring former PCHS football Coach Wayne Grant, June 22-24.

“The weekend will include football camps for kids, appreciation dinners and a Celebration of Champions event,” Baxter said.

Mayor Isabell Boyd and Bazzell offered their support to the appreciation weekend for Grant.

Melza Cook also addressed the council with his continuing concern about a drainage problem on his property. He said he has contacted an engineering firm from Dothan to evaluate the problem.

“Water is coming on my property from Sixth, Hillcrest and McGuire streets and Galloway Road,” Cook said. “I will pursue this situation until I get relief. I will keep working it.”

In other business, the council considered a resolution to make application to the Alabama Department of Transportation Alternative Set-Aside Program (TAPS) for funding to construction sidewalks on the north end of town in the area of Windmill Ave.,  Galloway Road and Veterans Blvd. The grant would be an 80-20 match with city’s cost at around $96,261. The total project would be about $481,384.

The Brundidge City Council meets at 6 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays of the month at Brundidge City Hall.