• 57°

New baseball complex proposed for county: Facility is long overdue, its proponents say

THE DAILY LEADER / JUSTIN VICORY / Dustin Walker urges the board of supervisors Tuesday to consider building a proposed new baseball facility on county property between the Lincoln Civic Center and the Hansel King Sports Complex.

The creation of a new baseball facility for the county was discussed at Tuesday’s board of supervisors meeting.

Among items also reviewed Tuesday were possible construction of an addition to the Lincoln County Veterans Memorial, final approval of vendor bids for the county and an update from the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce.

The proposed baseball facility would have five lighted fields, five batting cages, a two-story concession stand with a press box area and bathrooms, two covered pavilions and a parking area.

The facility would be located on Lincoln County property between the Lincoln Civic Center and the Hansel King Sports Complex.

Baseball Facility Concept Marketing Team Chaiman Dustin Walker expressed enthusiasm for the proposal. “I’m pretty passionate about this,” he said. “This is a way to give back to the community, to my own kids as well. We are looking for your feedback. Then we will determine where to go from there, and how to proceed,” Walker told the board.

An architectural rendering shows the five lighted fields planned for the facility. The complex also would include five batting cages, a two-story concession stand with a press box area and bathrooms, two covered pavilions and a parking area.

An architectural rendering shows the five lighted fields planned for the facility. The complex also would include five batting cages, a two-story concession stand with a press box area and bathrooms, two covered pavilions and a parking area.

Lincoln Civic Center representatives Quinn Jordan and William Kimble, also with the Baseball Facility Concept Marketing Team, said the proposed complex could hold up to 20,000 spectators.

According to a handout provided by Walker at the board meeting, current facilities and fields do not meet the minimum requirements to host quality league play or travel ball tournament play. Also, existing facilities are spread out throughout the city and are in need of repair.

The handout also stated that the A.L. Lott fields were designed for softball play and the Keystone Park fields are located in an industrial development area with close proximity to railway access.

With an acceptable offer, the land that includes the three Keystone fields could potentially be sold by the county for economic development purposes, the handout noted. This, in turn, could lead to job creation and revenue for the county, said Chancery Clerk Tilmon Bishop.

“Jobs, that’s No. 1. Cost will be another factor. But it’s a really good idea, and it’s a good place to put it. Baseball is almost begging to be played here,” said Chancery Clerk Tilmon Bishop.

Citing the fact there are very few similar baseball facilities anywhere from Jackson to New Orleans, Walker believes a centrally located park would be of service to the community.

“Besides being a healthy activity for kids, sports offers a way for kids to handle diversity, improve health-related issues and develop friendships that last a lifetime,” said Walker.

The possible approval of the facility concept is now under review by the county. Proponents of the complex said if it were approved by the supervisors, construction would likely take 18 to 24 months.

Bid selections 

As a follow-up to vendor bidding from last week’s specially called meeting, purchasing clerk Debbie Brent confirmed primary and secondary bid selections by the board. While many of the bid selections reflected the best savings for the county, this wasn’t a determining factor, suggested Chancery Clerk Bishop.

“The lowest bid isn’t always the best bid. We’ve seen in the past where the lower bid actually ends up costing the county more money than it’s worth.”

Veterans Memorial

Additions to the Lincoln County Veterans Memorial are under advisement by the board, after local veterans and Patriot Guard riders, Dell Beal, Derrall Foster and Hervey Littlefield proposed the construction of a brick wall addition to the current memorial, which sits in front of the government complex.

Each brick in the wall would designate a veteran’s service. To get started, the group said 1,142 8-by-8 bricks would need to be purchased. The veterans group appeared before the board to request possible funding for the project.

“I completely support the idea. The only concern I have, and it is a pretty significant one, is space,” Bishop said. “At some point, you are going to run out of space.”

While the board and group of veterans considered solutions to the problem, further considerations will be under advisement until the group attempts to solve the spacing issue.

The board advised the group to contact the city in an effort to divvy up donations to the possible construction project.

Fire hazard

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Brookhaven-Lincoln County Emergency Management Department Director Clifford Galey warned residents in the community to exercise caution when burning refuse such as leaves.

Galey cited dry weather and high winds as ideal conditions for the spread of fire. “There have been five or six fires over the weekend. They are spreading quickly.”

Rankin County issued a burn ban Tuesday. Galey said there are no plans for a similar ban in Lincoln County.

“No ban. We just want to get the word out,” Galey said.

Chamber update 

Executive Director of the Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce Garrick Combs appeared before the board as well, to reflect on chamber news for 2013, and to announce upcoming events for the New Year.

Combs, who took over as Executive Director of the Brookhaven Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce in July, characterized his term so far as “extremely busy.”

“We’ve had 15 ribbon-cutting ceremonies and anywhere between 350-400 walk-ins per month. “Brookhaven Day” will be held Tuesday, Jan. 28, in the capitol rotunda from 1-2:30 p.m., Combs noted.

A chamber membership drive will also be held on Feb. 24.