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Complaints about facilities at Ness Complex Print E-mail

Bamberg City Council members heard a presentation from Rex Williams and Dwayne Dokes of For Our Sons and Daughters (FOSAD) concerning what they say is a lack of facilities at the basketball court at the Ness Sports Complex.

The men presented council members with a petition signed by 40 citizens requesting “at least equal funding, support, and provisions for the formation of a viable basketball program for our youth and adults at Ness Park or other suitable location.”

Williams noted in a memo that was passed out to council members that at a September 11, 2006 meeting he was recognized by council to discuss a lack of basketball court facilities at the Ness Complex.

Williams alleged that the lack of facilities at the basketball court including lights and running water could only be racially motivated. “If there is no racial and bias action toward the upgrading at the Ness Sports Complex, then why do we have so many obstacles? “ Williams asked. He added “We need a deadline set for when these things need to be done.”

Responding to allegations that bleachers at the basketball court had been moved, Councilman Buzzy Bunch stated that the bleachers were city property and if they needed to be moved to accommodate baseball they would be moved and returned.

“If I needed them (bleachers) next week I’ll use them for baseball, we’ll put them back. If ya’ll needed more-extra bleachers there are sets all around there; we could move them over there if ya’ll need some,” Bunch said.

Mayor Alton McCollum told Williams and Dokes “we’ve heard your request and we will respond.”

The Annual City of Bamberg Fourth of July Celebration held annually at the Ness Sports Complex in Bamberg may become a victim of the lean economy. Bamberg Mayor Alton McCollum noted at the Monday night March 8 meeting of Bamberg City Council that the event held for the last 13 years “brings in people to the city of Bamberg.” But he stated that funds are “really, really tight this year”. The mayor stated that the celebration cost about $10,000 for the city to put on.

“I know it is an opportunity for people to come out and enjoy themselves, but it comes down to a matter of not what we enjoy, but what we can afford,” McCollum said. The mayor appointed a committee of Council members Janeth Walker, Chairperson, Nancy Foster and Ella Bamberg to collect information and make a recommendation at the next council meeting if the city should hold the event again this year.

During the insurance commissioner’s report Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson said that council had received a note saying that insurance rates could be going up January 1. He noted that he did not know what it would mean to employers and employees. “We could be looking at a little increase, we will know more toward December,” Watson said.

Police Chief George Morris reported that most of the city’s main businesses had renewed their licenses; however the seasonal businesses have not started yet.

In a follow-up to the regular Bamberg City Council meeting on March 8; the city’s Parks and Public Buildings Commission met Monday morning March 15, to discuss requests from FOSAD concerning the basketball courts at the Ness Complex in order to make a recommendation to City Council.

Committee members agreed that they would look at making some improvements at the Ness Complex basketball courts that meet the general use of the public.

During the meeting committee member Ella Bamberg presented information concerning the complex and concluded by saying that by her observation, the courts needed to have a smooth surface and are not suitable for dribbling. “We need to look into that also, and include basketball as an organization sport,” Bamberg said.

Committee member Buzzy Bunch said that the city already has an organized basketball program, and he noted that Mr. Craig Walker “does a good job” with that. Bunch noted that Walker received $4,000 this year for the basketball program. He stated that the court at the Ness Complex was “not designed to be a regulation court” but a place for kids to go play. “What we’re looking at is well into the $150,000 range for a regulation court,” Bunch said.

Bamberg Clerk/Treasurer Bruce Watson noted that the FOSAD members came before council several years ago with “a grocery shopping list” of things they would like to see done at the court. “I don’t know of anything that wasn’t really achieved that they asked for at that time,” Watson said.

Mayor Alton McCollum, who was in attendance at the meeting said to him it was a matter of what the city could afford. “I look at the programs we do offer, which have good supervision and quality people in charge. I look at what we can afford and can’t afford,” the mayor.

Committee Chairwoman Nancy Foster noted some of the improvements that have been made at the court including; bleachers, lighting and water fountains. She stated that she interviewed kids at the court on several occasions and she said “they seemed happy, they said they liked the four baskets,” Foster said.

Council member Janeth Walker said that the issue of the city basketball program and the basketball court at the Ness Complex are separate issues. “ I don’t think the request is or has been today about entertaining another program, the issue is the court, and what appears to be happening at the Ness Sports Complex,” Walker said.

Near the end of the meeting Committee Chairwoman Foster told FOSAD leader Rex Williams, “with all due respect to you and “Devine” you do not represent the city of Bamberg, we’ve listen to you for a long time,” Foster said.

“This isn’t right, you constantly want to keep the money in your pockets, but you don’t want to give anything to the community. Ya’ll want to do everything for ya’ll people, but when it comes to us, you don’t want to do what is right,” Williams said. At that time Rex Williams was arrested by Bamberg Police for disturbing the peace.

 
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