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The Press Box For Feb. 14

By Staff | Feb 14, 2018

Several things have caught my attention lately that I believe should be examined a lot closer before anyone decides to make a decision they might later regret. Keep in mind, these are my opinions and thoughts, not necessarily a reflection of the opinions and thoughts of the paper.

Anyway, the Hundred High School Boosters recently approached the Wetzel County Board of Education, requesting the Wetzel County BOE purchase property for the construction of a baseball field and softball complex.

In reality, it sounds pretty good. You buy us the land, and we promise to use our people and resources to do the work. We may need your help, but we have people willing to get this done. Hundred High School does not presently have a field . The field they previously used was part of the football field that got destroyed by last year’s flood, and has now become obsolete.

There is no doubt the land and facility is needed; however, is it really the BOE’s responsibility to provide it? I’m sure that would be a great solution, but is it the right thing to do? One of the speakers from Hundred mentioned that HHS is the only school that doesn’t own a field.

That is not true. Paden City has a need as well. The fields that the kids play on belong to the citizens of Paden City and are under the management of the Paden City Park and Pool Commission. I have a copy of the Park and Pool manual; according to it, all areas of the Park are under the management of the Commission. The manual states that the Park and Pool Commission has the authority over all the land designated as the Park. According to the manual, which was prepared by attorneys and is a legal document, the Park and Pool Commission is to make the decisions regarding the use of Park property.

The manual clearly spells out what, when, and how things are to take place in the Park. There is an ongoing agreement between the Park Commission and the Wetzel County BOE that provides use of the fields during baseball and softball seasons for a certain sum of money paid each year.

Recently, a park commissioner gave a report to Paden City Council, which included a possible sale of the property to the Wetzel County BOE. Counil was not interested in selling the property, only leasing it; council proposed increasing the lease rate instead.

That spits in the face of every member of the Park and Pool Commission, which is trying to find ways to keep the Park updated and the Pool running safely, without proper funding. Which also brings up another question. Where does the Commission get its funds to operate one of the valley’s finest parks?

Again, the Park manual spells out very clearly that the city provide the Park and Pool Commission with adequate funding. The manual clearly states the Commission has the right to buy and sell property, and to hire an attorney to handle its business. Again, the Commission should be making the decisions concerning any lease agreements with the BOE.

There are other ball fields in Paden City Park. Volunteers from the little leagues have always taken care of these fields and ran the concession stands, in a way that benefits the children. All kids need facilities to play and hone their skills. They need a safe and clean park. Hundred needs these thing for their community as well. What they don’t need is a community who fails to provide the youth a place to congregate and enjoy their time. They don’t need a place where city officials, that have no connection with the youth of today, make decisions at a once-a-month meeting, which undermines the efforts of volunteers that set on the Commission, by denying them the proper funding to operate the park.

If the city would do their part, and give the park commission the funds it deserves to manage the park properly, there would be no reason to propose selling any portion of the park.

The Wetzel County BOE has been more than generous in providing funding for Paden City’s ball fields. The Board doesn’t deserve to be forced to pay more money for something it doesn’t own. At the present time, the Board does plenty to keep the fields in order while the high school season is in play. Also, volunteers from the community continue to spend hours on the fields. Someone from the Park and Pool Commission needs to step up and let the City know who runs the park and has the official control. They mention putting in a putt-putt golf course and selling fuel, but all that seems to be idle talk to distract from the problem.

Remember, not that many years ago, Paden City had 3800 residents and is now down to nearly 2400. Maybe the City should consider cuts in other areas. The Park is the life blood of the community and should be a priority, and should be properly funded.

We often compare communities to communities when it comes to water bills and sewer rates, but take a look around; you will see the surrounding areas provide what it takes to keep their parks in nice order and properly funded, including in some cases paid commissioners and directors. Paden City should leave well enough alone and allow the commissioners to do their job and provide the Commission the resources to to it with. This is one way to ensure you have a community of kids that have a chance to become better athletes and better people. It also should provide a drug-free environment.

I am in agreement with the Wetzel County BOE providing the property and the facilities for Hundred High School; however, they should be prepared to provide Paden City, or any other county school, with the same. In years past, Paden City citizens took it upon themselves to toil and sweat and build their own park, and their football field and their swimming pool and their own field house.

Recently, Paden City had a few citizens pitch in and build press boxes at the high school football field. They also did considerable work on the baseball and softball fields and facilities. The Board was involved as well, as they purchased the materials . The board has also helped improve the ball fields owned by the Park and Pool. Always keep in mind though that what you see and hear is not what you always receive. Just like what Hundred is asking sounds good, however, it can turn sour very quickly.

Paden City Boosters made a promise to the Weztel County BOE a few years back. The then-Boosters organization seemed to be in great shape financially. They promised the BOE that if the BOE would deed over to the Boosters certain valuable property, they would erect a multi-purpose building that would have a basketball court for all Wetzel schools to use. They promised they had the money to complete the project, and it would be finished by a certain date.

The purpose was for the Boosters to save the county money by eliminating rent they were paying the Paden City Development Authority for use of the old middle school gymnasium. They said they too would save money by not having to pay rent for their weekly bingo which they would hold at the new facility.

Well we all know how that worked out. Construction was finally finished about three years late, and the basketball floor was never installed. The building now houses a restaurant and is used for everything it was never intended for. The kids again lost out. And to be frank, the building is lucky to have found a use, as it was nearly foreclosed on.

One of the stipulations in the original agreement between the BOE and the Paden City Boosters was that if the building wasn’t completed by the promised date, it would revert back to the BOE. I’m still waiting for that to happen as it could be a great asset to Paden City High School.

The Boosters at Paden City High School contributed a lot to the success of the school, but the idea of building the big White Elephant blew up in their face and did damage to a good organization that may never be repaired.

Now my questions to the BOE is this: Can and will Hundred be able to live up to its end of the bargain, or will you get burned again? Also, what will you do if Paden City, by authority of the Park Commission, raises your lease? What if they decide to sell? Are you willing to buy with the provision that if the school were to close, the City could repurchase at the same price as sold, even with improvements you may make. The old saying goes – “Get burned once, shame on you; get burned twice, shame on me.”

Paden City should be careful about making decisions on Park and Pool issues without the consent, and consulting with, the Commission. The Park belongs to the citizens, and the Park and Pool Commission is there on the citizens’ behalf to see that it remains a viable place of refuge for all to enjoy. Including a safe and clean swimming pool for the youth to enjoy. One that remains open a sufficient length of time as the surrounding communities provide. We do not want the children of our town swimming in a dirty and dangerous river when they can enjoy a nice swimming facility in a beautiful park setting. Also, the Park and Pool manual also spells out rules and regulations on sales within the Park. The Commission should jump on that. It is also every citizens right to obtain a copy of the manual; however, they will probably make you pay for it. eparsons@tylerstarnews.com.