On Monday, the Stone County Board of Supervisors met and discussed regular business in addition to recently relaxed social distancing measures; and Bryan Gibson, the Stone County recreation director, reported to the board on sporting events and sports fields reopening.
On May 9, Stone County hosted a Great Southern Sports Association baseball tournament for players in the seventh to 12th grade. Participants were from the Coast and as far away as Lucedale, Hurley and a school in Alabama near the state line.
“We kind of rolled them (attendees) in and out all day,” Gibson said.
Gibson said the tournament followed the current guidelines for parks and broke the groups into morning and evening shifts.
Gibson said with 20 people per field and seven fields, the department is allowed 140 people. People on the field and in attendance must keep distancing, he said. That does not include people who park to watch the game and stay in their car.
According to Gov. Tate Reeves' latest executive order, many activities may resume as long as certain guidelines are followed for the safety and health of participants.
"It’s very important we have these tournaments. Things cost a lot of money,” he said.
Gibson said it costs the department $72,000 just to operate the sports leagues. In a typical year, the department takes in about $69,000 in revenue.
With parks shut down for several weeks, Gibson said the department has lost about $15,000 from baseball and soccer compared to financial reports from this time last year.
Most of the revenue comes from concession stand profits, which Gibson says is down anyway because the stand currently only serves drinks. Money earned goes directly into keeping the sports leagues operating, he said.
“The more tournaments we can have, the more self-sufficient we can be,” Gibson said.
Gibson said for a normal tournament, the department gets a $150 rental fee per field plus all concession stand profits. A large tournament during the weekend makes about $3,000 to $4,000 each day, he said.
Additionally, the cost of operating the games, paying umpires or referees, and insuring the players is always covered by the organization hosting the event.
Gibson also said past profits have gone toward renovating and improving parks and sports facilities. In the near future, he said, he would love to take on some new projects to improve the baseball facility.
Gibson said he is hoping sports events can return to normal soon because every $1,000 in lost revenue has to come from somewhere for youth sports to operate.
“I’m for Stone County and for Stone County kids,” Gibson said.
The next board meeting will be at the Stone County Courthouse and take place in June.
In other business, supervisors:
• Approved inmate meal report for the prior month.
• Approved the resignation of correctional officer Charles Smith, III.
• Approving funds for a jail officer training course for three officers at $500 per officer.
• Approved a correction for homestead exemption.
• Approved two industrial tax exemptions for Hood Industries and Dunn Paper of Wiggins, which totaled $10,000 and $19,000.
• Approved payment to jury commissioners.
• Approved revenue reports for the Stone County Building and Code Department.
• Corrected an account error for Rail Car Tax revenue received found by the State Auditor.
• Approved final paperwork and reports for re-roofing the Stone County Regional Correctional Facility.
• Approved the board’s financial reports for the prior month.