WINONA – The installation of the new artificial turf at the Winona Recreational Park may be completed earlier than expected.
According to Park Director Mike Narmour, crews are busy installing the underground drainage systems situated below the artificial turf to allow water to drain off the field quickly after a storm. This artificial turf and underground drainage system will help curb baseball tournament rainouts which have plagued the city for the past several years.
“The company said if the rain holds off, they could be finished mid-December,” Narmour said. “But I’m thinking it will be more like mid-January, realistically.
According to Narmour, the use of artificial turf at recreational parks is a growing trend throughout Mississippi to cut down on field upkeep as well as prevent rainouts at organized baseball and softball tournaments throughout the year.
Narmour said just one of these tournaments brings more than 1,000 visitors to Winona, and those visitors stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, and shop in local retailers.
According to Winona City Clerk June Williams, in fiscal year 2019, the Winona Recreational Park brought in an approximate $117,000 in tournament fees, admissions, and parking. However, the 2019 season was particularly rainy, with several tournaments being rained out. On average, park revenue is approximately $170,000 annually, not including the increase in sales tax the tournaments bring local businesses, hotels, and restaurants.
The first tournament of 2020 is scheduled for February.
Also at the park, the board voted to allow Water Superintendent Frank Faulkner to move a three-inch waterline that is currently crossing through the center of one ballfield. With the installation of the new turf and French drains around each field, a water leak would be more difficult to detect, and Faulkner requested permission to move the line along the perimeter of the field.
Newly-paved walking trails are getting the finishing touches, Narmour said. The walking trail project was funded by a grant through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks.
In other business:
• The board accepted the resignation of Dana French from the Water Department.
• The board voted to increase the fee for copies of accident reports, incident reports, and background checks to $15 from $10. According to Winona Chief of Police Tommy Bibbs, the $15 per copy is more in line with what other agencies charge for the service.
• The board voted to re-hire Blake Herring as a lieutenant at the Winona Police Department. Herring left the department last spring.
• Bibbs addressed a citizen’s complaint about speeding on Church Street. According to Bibbs, Tuesday afternoon, he ran radar on Church Street and for the most part, he said the speed bumps the city installed to combat speeding are working.
• The board accepted the resignation of Tracy Garrett from the Street Department.
• Animal Control Officer Arlin Pearson urged residents to spay and neuter their cats and dogs. He informed the board that at one property in Winona, he has removed 24 dogs and still plans to pick up the remaining seven.
“If your two dogs have puppies, you are responsible for those puppies,” Pearson said. “Please take responsibility for your pets and have them spayed or neutered.”
• Pearson also informed the board that he is working with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks to capture several nursing mother coyotes inside the city limits of Winona.
• The board of aldermen declined to take action to raise customers’ garbage rates at this time to make up for money the city is not recouping from collection customers’ garbage fees. The city currently has a $71,000 deficit annually after garbage fees are paid that must be made up from the city’s general fund. In addition to a new rate increase from Waste Management, which will add to this deficit, the city pays $56,507 per year to have Waste Management empty the roll-away containers at the city barn.
Alderman Mickey Austin said he wanted to wait until Waste Management’s contract was up for renewal next summer so the city can look for a less expensive contract.
Alderman Kelvin Winbush agreed that raising garbage rates at this time is not something he wants to do.
• The board accepted the resignation of Mark Middleton from the Winona-Montgomery Consolidated School District, effective December 31. The board will be tasked to appoint another board member to his seat in an upcoming meeting.