Council split on funding tennis tourney trip

Published 10:39 pm Monday, September 12, 2011

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

The Pelham City Council narrowly approved a motion during its Sept. 12 meeting to help pay for a trio of teams from the Pelham Racquet Club to travel to Arizona and California to compete in the U.S. Tennis Association’s national championship tournaments.

During the meeting, the council voted 3-2 to donate $1,000 to each team traveling to the tournaments. Council President Mike Dickens, Councilman Steve Powell and Councilwoman Karyl Rice voted in favor of the donation, and Councilman Bill Meadows and Councilwoman Teresa Nichols voted against.

The three tennis teams qualified to compete in the national championship tournament after winning their sectional and regional tournaments. Pelham Parks and Recreation Director Billy Crandall said no other facility has ever sent three teams to the national championship.

Two teams will travel to Tucson, Ariz., in mid-September to compete in the national tournaments for their divisions, and the third team will travel to Palm Springs, Calif., in October to compete, Crandall said.

Crandall said it would cost about $29,000 total for the three teams to travel to the tournaments, but the city’s donation would help offset the cost.

Powell said helping to fund the teams’ trips could market Pelham to a wide audience.

“I think we’ve got a unique opportunity to market and advertise our facility in a national tournament,” Powell said. “It seems to me that Mr. Crandall’s request is reasonable.”

However, Meadows said he would like to see the city donate money to the Pelham High School football team and band.

“Pelham is a football city. If we put this (tennis donation motion) on the agenda, I’m going to vote against it and add a motion to add $3,000 to the football and band budget,” Meadows said in the council’s pre-meeting work session. “They have a hard time raising money.”

Before the council voted to donate $3,000 to the tennis teams, Meadows made a secondary motion to also donate $3,000 each to the school’s band and football team.

However, the secondary motion failed by a 3-2 vote, with Nichols, Powell and Dickens voting against the secondary motion and Meadows and Rice voting in favor.

In other business, the city also voted narrowly to pass an Alcoholic Beverage Control retail beer and retail table wine license for the R.J. Food Mart at 2774 Pelham Parkway.

Meadows, Powell and Rice voted in favor of granting the license, and Dickens and Meadows voted against.

The vote came after Nichols made a motion to deny the license. However, Nichols’ motion died after it was not seconded.

Dickens said he voted against granting the license after a police background check revealed the person applying for the license was arrested in Jefferson County and charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas wrote in his report the person was arrested “for selling alcohol to a minor.”

Powell said the ABC board’s legal department would not consider the charge a “major offense,” and said it would not prevent the applicant from obtaining a license.

“Their (ABC’s) legal department won’t even let them look at that, because it has to be a major offense,” Powell said.

“Contributing to the delinquency of a minor. That’s not something we consider a major offense?” Dickens responded.