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Agri-Park Committee Minutes – August 12, 2021

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12 August 2021


Committee member attendees: Chairperson County Executive Melissa Greene (in George Witt’s absence), Commissioners – Rose Brown, Brad Butler, Duane Jones, Judy Pruett, Stoney Jackson; Other members –  Mayor Pat Ford, Benny Birdsong, and absent Jason Doggett and Pete Britton.  Other Attendees:  Commissioners – Harold Brooks, Joseph Sutton, Joyce Woodward, Tommy Pollard, Gayle Jones, David Adams, Terry Harwell, Mike Cesarini, Larry Worsham, Tracy Wilburn, Tim Risner, Roger Reedy, Rodney Journey, David Wamble,  Bill Cary Erin Curry; Other: UT Extension County Director Kevin Rose,  Chamber of Commerce Jessie Parker and Ann Basinger and Public Bill Young


Chairperson Melissa Greene called the meeting to order.  Tommy Pollard  led the prayer and pledge.


Last meeting minutes of 14 May, 2021were approved after motion by Stoney Jackson and seconded by Rose Brown.


First Agenda Item – Park Fees

A handout was provided by Melissa Greene showing proposed fees for the park.  The fee structure was developed by the Ad Hoc committee put into place during the 14 May 2021 meeting and clarified the sometimes ambiguous language and the fees to be charged.  Major changes include fee structure for one building vs the whole park; difference in renting the barns and arenas (typically bigger events and require more utility costs.)  The fee structure will be posted on the Giles County website.  Duane Jones moved for approval of the proposed fee structure shown in the handout and Brad Butler seconded the motion.  Motion approved.


Second Agenda Item – Evergreen Expedition (tour of live Christmas trees)

Melissa asked that the dates be set so that timelines for notification to tree sponsors can happen; plans for additional activity can be developed, e.g. handouts of candy canes for children, and other potential activities.  The previous dates were for a Friday night, a Saturday and a Sunday and public entry was free.  Jessie mentioned that they now have 60 trees (last year had 28; charged businesses and organizations $20 to cover any of the costs; and had 575 cars go through).  She mentioned that if select the same time this year, the yearly Christmas parade will also be that day as well as a few other community Christmas activities;  However she saw this not as a conflict but as a way to expand the Christmas holiday in a more robust way.  Stoney asked how did the word get out last year and was told Chamber of Commerce and social media as well as last year’s visitors were told would do again this year.  A motion by Rose Brown to set the dates of 10-12th of December (second weekend in December) and seconded by Benny was made and approved.


During the above discussion several suggestions were made as follow:  Maybe have some activities inside; have a food truck or concessions; caramel corn; have a Santa Claus; still do candy canes for each child for the personal touch (being careful due to COVID) and definitely entry be free; Provide and advertise a gift card, e.g. for every 500th car or other enticements; Had a firepit last year; hot chocolate inside Volunteer Hall; several suggestions on who could do the Santa Claus; Do pictures with Santa; business owners would be willing to pay small fee or do a donation (from a developed list of what would be needed); comment if do more will need more electrical outlets (Benny); parking probably opposite Volunteer Hall, given concession stand is a one-way; perhaps use youth groups to help with parking.


Third Agenda Item – Lighting Update


Per Melissa the lighting planned to be completed for the Rotary Horse Show failed to happen.  Shortfalls probably due to COVID happened and the contractor has been contacted several times.  She now expects work to be done by the 20th of September.  If changes, will let all know.  Stoney possibility of renting lights, e.g. from construction companies?  Melissa commented they had used some lighting from other sources at times.


Old Business

Stoney asked about the upgrade to the concession stand.  Per Melissa a federal grant requested in 2019 went through TN state quickly but now due to so many staff turnovers has not been awarded.  She was able to check recently on the grant but still no projected date to let the county know if the requested grant is approved.  She did comment this type grant often goes to larger counties.  It’s a $5M grant for a 400 person safe shelter which in our case could serve both purposes.  She did not recommend doing anything to the current concession stand until determination is made on the proposed grant.


New business

Per Rodney, while most of the grounds look good, the old arena area is in disrepair.  Benny commented the park doesn’t have the equipment to do some of the necessary grading.  He and Giles County Road Superintendent Barry Hyatt had been in discussion about using their equipment.  However given the Transportation’s current workload that doesn’t seem to be a timely solution.  Stoney asked if the city had a road grader that could be used, with the county paying for the cost in the same manner they do for Transportation.  Mayor Pat Ford said he would look into that.  Benny mentioned that he had done considerable landscaping and would like to plant small boxwoods.


Melissa mentioned a playground grant through Blue Cross/Blue Shield that has no match required.  She will apply again.


Jessie invited everyone to the Here’s the beef, and mentioned their website and also provided handouts.  Kevin asked that everyone encourage youth to enter and Jessie mentioned there is a total of $9K in prize money.


Duane Jones moved to adjourn; Benny seconded.  Motion approved.