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Council tables 4-H Park lease agreement


December 19, 2012
The Crawford County Council, meeting Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the judicial complex in English, tabled a potential lease agreement regarding the Crawford County 4-H Community Park south of Marengo.

All council members were present and several members of the public, including 4-H Council officials, came to listen to the discussion.

"The 4-H Council is working with the county commissioners to try to come up with a lease agreement in order for the loan payment to be made," 4-H board member Terry Allen said. "I need to request, or present to you, the approval for the consideration that the lease be put in place and the money gets appropriated."

Allen explained that the lease agreement would be for one year and the amount of funds that it would require is $37,168, which would cover the annual $32,168 USDA Rural Development loan payment on the property and $5,000 for aid in paying the insurance premiums.

"The lease states that the $5,000 is to go to insurance premiums and a little bit of upkeep on the grounds," he said. "In the end, it definitely goes to most of the insurance."

For the lease agreement to be approved by the commissioners, the county council must determine that the 4-H Park is needed and the county be given office space at the facility.

The lease would call for the park to be used four weeks out of the year by the commissioners in any capacity they see fit. It also would enable the park to be utilized by the county in an emergency situation as a shelter.

Auditor Ricki Hawkins informed the county council that its attorney, Marcus Burgher IV, advised the group to make no decisions on the lease agreement at this time.

"He did not receive the e-mail of the draft until today," she said. "He had some issues, some questions that he would like answered. His opinion was for the county council to not go ahead with it tonight."

She said that Burgher would like for one of the council members, a commissioner and county attorney John E. Colin to meet with Allen and himself and go over everything in the agreement.

Council President Jerry Brewer said a public hearing is still needed in order for the agreement to move forward. (The commissioners were to conduct a public hearing yesterday (Tuesday) at the judicial complex.)

"I, for sure, want to work out that the council will be able to make that $32,000 payment," Brewer said. "I want to pay it."

Council member Steve Bartels said he's not opposed to the agreement with the 4-H Council but needs to see more paperwork and a copy of the agreement first.

"There's a lot of eyebrows raised and people are asking questions that I can't answer," he said. "I'd like to see some more information."

The outstanding balance on the facility, Allen said, is in the ballpark of $350,000. Right now, the 4-H Council is breaking even on the expenses and what it takes in each year.

County Council member Sharon Wilson said the 4-H Council needs to advertise the park to entice more groups to hold events at the facility. It is, however, a double-edge sword, Allen said, because most of the workforce at the facility is volunteer and, in order to staff events, more volunteers would be needed or money would need to be spent.

Bartels and fellow council member Doug McLain agreed to meet with Burgher and a commissioner to go over the agreement.

In another matter, Lloyd Arnold, of the Little League, requested $5,000 of riverboat gaming revenue for the construction of dugouts on the remaining field, located at Crawford County Junior-Senior High School. However, the council had to deny the request because the State Board of Accounts will not allow it to release the money.

"I want to pay it. I think it's the right thing to do, but we can't until we get it clarified," Brewer said. "I think $5,000 to the Little League is a good way to spend those funds."

In other business, the council:

•Unanimously approved advertised additional appropriations totaling $80,000. Other funds were reduced by the corresponding amount to provide the necessary appropriations.

•Discussed the movement of Extension Office secretary Tammy DeWeese to the Emergency Management Agency office to assist EMA Director Larry Allen.

•Approved, 7-0, a temporary transfer of funds from the Rainy Day Fund to the Crawford County Health Fund in the amount of $25,000 to cover expenses and operating costs. The loan is to be paid back by June 30.

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Barbara Shaw
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