CHURCH HILL — During a special called meeting Thursday evening, Church Hill Mayor Dennis Deal told his board he'll hold Mount Carmel to the Joint Parks and Rec Board contract that requires one year's notice to withdraw from.
As part of its proposed 2018-19 budget draft, Mount Carmel had cut a little over $100,000 from its parks and recreation department, including the $72,000 it contributes annually as part of the Joint Parks and Rec Board with Church Hill and Surgoinsville.
"The agreement may be terminated upon one year written notice from one government to the other,” Deal told his board Thursday. "I have not received a written notice from the city of Mount Carmel, which is the appropriate way to do this. It's basically been verbal. That one year written notice was put in place to protect all of the cities. It will protect Church Hill, Surgoinsville and Mount Carmel."
Deal added, “I really think we need to enforce that year, and keep it in place, and that gives us a year to transition if they do withdraw from our recreation program. I hope they don't. I hope they review this again, look at it more closely for the benefit of the kids, because that's why we're all in this anyway. ... We want Mount Carmel to succeed. If they succeed, we succeed."
The Joint Recreation Board allows the three cities to share the cost of operating sports leagues, with Mount Carmel and Church Hill shouldering 40 percent each and Surgoinsville 20 percent.
Non-resident children are invited to participate, and until now they’ve paid $10 extra per league. On Thursday, however, the BMA agreed to waive that extra $10 fee for non-residents in hopes of encouraging more children to participate in East Hawkins County sports.
Deal noted that Church Hill is in the process of developing a new 65-acre park off Holliston Mills Road that will include multiple ballfields and sports arenas and become an epicenter for sports leagues and recreation activity not only for Hawkins County, but for the region.
That new park is not only for the benefit of Church Hill residents but for all Hawkins County residents, Deal added, and now is the time to begin encouraging unity and participation in Parks and Rec for city and county residents alike.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but we get a lot of kids from Rogersville, we get a lot of kids from Surgoinsville, and we want them to participate in our Recreation because it makes our program stronger,” Deal said. “I firmly believe, and statistics prove it, if a kid is in sports, versus a kid who’s not in sports, they have a better chance of being good citizens. They don’t get in trouble as easy if they’re in sports.”