RIPLEY - Ripley City Council tentatively approved the expenditure of $30,495 for improvements at Whiting Park in the highlight of a brief session at City Hall. Recorder David Casto presided in the absence of Mayor Carolyn Rader who was spending time with family.

The improvements will include $6,475 for a new storage building to be used by the Ripley Youth Football Program and $24,020 for a new batting cages for the Ripley Youth Baseball Program. Funding will come in the form of $20,000 from hotel/motel tax funds with the balance of $10,495 coming from carryover funds, according to City Clerk Tom Armstead’s recommendation.

“This is a very good thing for the kids,” commented Casto.
Councilperson Carolyn Waybright suggested that a progress report be required for the projects, and council also suggested that an agreement be drawn up by City Attorney Kevin Harris and signed by the Ripley Little League President, Ripley Youth Football President, Parks Commission President and City Maintenance Supervisor stipulating that  the structures will be owned by the city along with guidelines for how they should look, etc. Such an agreement will prevent any problems with subsequent changes in leadership of the involved groups.

Council also requested that Harris look into making the funding monetary gift-status and explore the legalities involved regarding wage issues concerning the construction of the projects.
Parks Commission President Ray Anderson said the storage building would be completed in some two weeks after construction begins. He thanked council for funding the improvements not only as parks commission president but as a youth coach and grandfather.

In other action, Council:
• Discussed the Jackson County Anti-Drug Coalition’s recommendation that city parks be made tobacco-free. Council focused their discussion on Whiting park since the Pool Park involved Board of Education property. Council suggested making the parking lot a designated smoking area and the rest of the park smoke-free. Action was tabled until the next council meeting on September 17.
• Conducted a public hearing for a proposed water rate ordinance establishing and fixing water rates, connection charges, delayed payment penalties and other charges for service to customers of the Ripley water system. Councl then passed the second reading of the ordinance.
Commented Councilman Russ Vannoy, “This rate hike was expected and actually overdue.”
• Heard a report  from Chief of Police Raymond Fridley on the recent Drug Take Back Program. Fridley reported that 35 pounds of pills and 12 pounds of liquids were collected at locations at Ripley City Hall and Big Lots in Ravenswood. The total is down from previous collections, but still disposed of 47 pounds of prescription medications. Fridley said the drop-off box at Ripley Police Department headquarters is help with the effort, and the incinerator at the county farm is disposing of the collected medications.