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Agri-Park Board Committee Meeting Minutes – January 13, 2023 (Approved)

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13 JANUARY 2023


The Chair Commissioner Matt Rubelsky opened the meeting asking Benny Birdsong to offer a prayer and lead the pledge.  The Minutes of 2 December 2022 were moved for approval by Commissioner Caleb Savage, seconded by Benny Birdsong.  Prior to the vote a proposed addition was made by Commissioner Gayle Jones, adding to paragraph #8 (following Director Doggett’s comment) the following sentence:

“County Executive stated that according to District Attorney Brent Cooper, the law in question is certainly relevant, but would need to be applied prior to the signing of a lease agreement.”

Commissioner Caleb Savage rescinded his first motion and with the changes noted above Commissioner Gayle Jones moved for approval and with Commissioner Caleb Savage providing the second the motion was unanimously approved.

Next Agenda Item – Proposed By-Laws.  The Chair noted that the proposed By-Laws have been provided through e-mails and that the County Attorney Chris Williams is with us today for any questions.  He further noted that the discussion will not go line by line but with those particular areas/sections that have questions.  He then asked the County Executive Graham Stowe to discuss the proposed changes.  The County Executive said since we don’t have any By-Laws now there will need to be a 2/3 vote by members of the Board for approval.  Further that the By-Laws reflect how the county is currently operating, with preserving club interest considered, and with some technical issues brought up by the County Attorney.  In addition, Jason Doggett could not attend today but had given a thumbs-up to the proposed By-Laws.  A motion by Benny Birdsong, seconded by Commissioner Caleb Savage on approval was made.  The County Executive discussed a Resolution (handed out and read out loud) which signed and accompanied by the By-Laws would place the By-laws into effect and would be provided to state as an addendum to the charter.  Additionally, six of those present would need to approve out of the total nine members even considering the absence of two, Directors Tim Risner and Jason Doggett.  A motion by Benny Birdsong to approve the resolution and the By-Laws, seconded by Maurice Woodard, was approved through a role call with all six members present voting for approval.   The County Executive noted that any future changes would require a 2/3 vote as well.  Commissioner Terry Jones reiterated that he thought every commissioner should be a member of the board.  Commissioner Joseph Sutton asked when the By-Laws would go into effect and the County Executive answered immediately.  Benny Birdsong said that it was said in this and other meetings that there were no By-Laws, but that there had been By-Laws under which the park operated.  The problem being they could not be found.  The Chair mentioned that no one could come up with anything official.  Benny Birdsong then thanked the County Executive for his hard work on the now official By-Laws.


Next Agenda Item – Park Use/Agreement (handout).  County Executive mentioned this was not available until the day of the meeting (13 Jan 2023) since there had been a number of edits to be incorporated, up until the morning of the meeting.  As an overall change he noted that “designee” is never spelled out and in terms of operation has been the County Executive and Office, so suggested making it the County Executive or County Executive’s Office.  The chair agreed given that the work load had been considered by the County Executive.  The County Executive said the policy will make a difference on how the park is used, i.e., whether it is a club sponsored event or not, with the club sponsored being able to use the buildings and grounds, but if not club sponsored, can only use the Volunteer building and the livestock barn.  This rule allows more efficient insurance coverage for the county.  A question about the outside bathrooms if a non-club event, especially if only using the livestock barn, was raised and the answer was the outdoor restrooms were open for use.


Changes then moved to page 2, last paragraph, section that starts with “If your proposed event is open to the public, a Law Enforcement/Security Plan is required for events with more than …”  Recommended change, “may be required at the discretion of the Board”.  This change is due to more involvement than just the County Executive’s Office might be required.  In addition, the “with more than” is also struck since it was addressing numbers and that is addressed elsewhere (under insurance).  A question from the public, Mr. Walter Groover (Lion’s club), on what would trigger such a review was answered by the Chair in that would be at the discretion of the County Executive, law enforcement or Board.  At this time a correction from Chris Williams on the insurance section was made.  Under insurance a paragraph addressing the size of the PUBLIC AT LARGE showed that range to be 15,000 or more attending.  That should be changed from 15,000 to 5,000.


(Although pages not numbered, on the handout, page 3) Under A. A $400.00 deposit was questioned by the Chair if that number is substantial enough, with Benny saying no more than $500 (noting attending do a good job), and with the County Executive saying he felt the $400 was adequate.


Page 4 (although not officially numbered) – Section I which addresses security requirements and per the County Executive this section needs to be melded with the previous security statement.  Benny noted that the Lion’s Club pays $28 per hour now.  (County Executive said we need to develop Memorandums of Understanding so that the clubs get set rates).  Benny also mentioned that they currently pay a deputy but do not pay the reserves.


Last Page which shows a “W” section, the County Executive wants to get out of reviewing advertisements so would take out the whole “W” section.  A question was raised by Commissioner Joseph Sutton as where is alcohol addressed and the Chair said coming up in policy.  The Chair also said the Rules will be attached to the Lease Application and Agreement and would treat both as one document, in terms of approval in this meeting.

Under Policies and Regulations (handout provided).   Paragraph 4 which states no alcoholic beverages, drugs, explosives, or fireworks are allowed on the premises at any time was the subject of much discussion.  The following concerns were identified:  Precedents of some club sponsored events have allowed beer to either be available or to surreptitiously be consumed; understanding that no county property may allow alcohol; how to enforce when done at events when people choose to drink outside, in cars, or surreptitiously; and changing the policy of no alcohol to allowing alcohol shows support for drinking when the opposite is true.   The following solutions were considered:  Allow on a case by case basis; raise cost of rental; no open containers.  A comment was also made on the part of Paragraph 4 that addresses fireworks and the possibility that the city (Pulaski) sponsored Fourth of July celebration and fireworks might want to consider the Agri-Park location for future events.  The Chair stated since the document itself is a living document and changes can be made, at this time recommended leaving as is and come back later to address, given the varying situations, solutions, and interest in the subject.

Paragraph 5 which deals with campfires being prohibited was discussed with the County Executive saying that the park staff should know in advance.

Paragraph 6 which addresses live performances, specifically male or female impersonators was commented upon by Pat Ford in that there have been male beauty reviews done humorously by several organizations in town over the years.  General comments indicated a preference to not change the paragraph.

Paragraph 9 which discussed submission of advertising or public notices to be submitted to the County Executive was struck at the suggestion of the County Executive.

Paragraph 10 discusses all dogs must be kept on a leash, and the question of service dogs was brought up for discussion.  Attorney Chris Williams suggested a new sign placed at the Giles County Courthouse might be used in this situation as well.


At this time the Chair did a recap of the various changes.  A motion by Commissioner Gayle Jones, seconded by Commissioner Caleb Savage, was made to approve the lease application and agreement and to approve the resolution with the various changes listed above and recapped by the Chair.  A discussion then ensured when Pat Ford asked the County Attorney if he had fully reviewed and felt comfortable with the draft and corrections presented.  Mr. Williams commented that the document is not his but the Board’s and conforms to similar policies of other counties and parks.  Pat Ford further asked if there is any cause for concern or if any could be raised.  Mr. Williams said he can’t speak to what might be brought, only that if challenged he would defend it.  The County Executive asked Mr. Williams if he thought the documents were defendable and he stated that the moral issues that are addressed are consistent with the county’s morals, as well as other surrounding counties and other park regulations, and being in accordance with law, thus defendable.  A Role Call on the motion was made with the following voting aye – Commissioners Gayle Jones, Maurice Woodard, Caleb Savage, Matt Rubelsky, and Benny Birdsong and Pat Ford.  George Witt abstained.  Motion passes with 6 votes, 1 abstaining.

A discussion on when and where the next Agri-Park meeting would be was discussed since there is a potential conflict with a budget meeting.

Next item of discussion – the Health Care grant.  Per the Chair the county’s grant was not selected/awarded, however Ms. Savannah Jenkins who has been of considerable support will continue to look for other similar type grants.  The County Executive mentioned the Blue Cross/Blue Shield playground grant is still pending.

New Business – A discussion on the alternating of a commissioner and a club representative as either Chairman or Vice Chairman, respectively, was addressed and will be on the agenda for the next meeting, per the Chair.  Since the By-Laws would then be effect, the Vice Chair Commissioner Caleb Savage would step down and one of the Clubs would provide their nomination.   A question by Commissioner Terry Jones on how clubs process their nominated representatives was made, given that Commissioners are term limited/elected.  Per Pat Ford the club representatives are elected every year as well.

At this time George Witt moved for adjournment, and with Pat Ford providing the second, the motion was unanimously approved.


ATTENDEES:  Members of the Board Chairman Commissioner Matt Rubelsky, County Executive (Ex-officio) Graham Stowe and other commissioners Caleb Savage, Gayle Jones, Maurice Woodard and Absent – Tim Risner  Other Club Members – George Witt, Benny Birdsong, Pat Ford, and Absent – Jason Doggett


Other Commissioners in attendance – Terry Jones, Joseph Sutton, Annelle Guthrie, Judy Pruett, Erin Curry


Other attendees – County Attorney Chris Williams, Connie Howell, Attorney Lucy Henson, Walter Groover (Lion’s Club vice-president) and other members of the public