Prior to the beginning of the Ravenswood City Council meeting on Feb. 19, Ravenswood Middle School wrestler Trenton Bush was recognized for his outstanding achievement in wrestling. Bush, a seventh grader, was the first middle school wrestler from Ravenswood to win the WSAZ Invitational. Miller read and presented Bush with a certificate of recognition from the City.
“This is a prime example of a young student athlete to have goals of his own and a God given talent,” Ravenswood Middle School wrestling coach and City of Ravenswood Police Captain Bobby Knox said.
Knox said the advice he gives all of his wrestlers is to work hard and always remember, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”
According to Knox, Bush has the talent.
“If he continues to work hard, one day we will see him wrestling at the collegiate level on ESPN,” Knox added.
During the public forum portion of the City Council meeting, several concerns were brought to the attention of the Council. Issues on items such as street lighting, the addition of a skate park, and ways to protect the children of the city, were addressed.
Ken Creel addressed his concerns about street lights being out on city light poles. He noted several lights have been out for a while. Creel said he contacted AEP, but they have not resolved the issue.
Mayor Josh Miller said they would get in touch with AEP to have them fixed. He advised Creel to provide Kim Benson with the pole numbers of the lights needing to be addressed.
Miller said they have made contact with AEP before concerning the lights and that he will have them contacted again.
“We are kind of at their mercy,” Miller said.
City Council candidate Brandon Shinn, discussed the need for a skate park in the City of Ravenswood. He noted that skateboarding is a sport and not just a “fad.”
Shinn said the attention that organized sports get, as opposed to alternative sports that do not have a state title or do not receive trophies, is sad, because “The kids work just as hard at these sports, just not as much recognition.”
Shinn said he has been in contact with a designer of skate parks that was once interested in building a facility in Ravenswood.
“The project, for whatever reason, did not work out,” Shinn said.
Shinn read a message from the designer of the park to those in attendance at the meeting.
Following the message, Shinn stated he would like to see a skate park come to fruition.
“It’s not for a personal win for myself,” Shinn said. “It’s something I believe in, I believe it would be a nice positive environment for kids to go to and enjoy. Working together is the ultimate goal in getting it done.”
Miller said he was aware of who Shinn was speaking of and that the original offer is still there for the plan, but they need real funding and donors in order for the City to get involved.
“I actually agree with you on this and this is a good project,” Miller said. “I just hope an organization can get together and make it happen.”
Miller said the city would be happy to provide the land, but a solid plan must be presented to the Council with a follow through on how it would be funded.
Jane Parsons discussed her concerns for a program to assist children in Ravenswood in knowing where a safe location to go would be if they ever felt scared or afraid. She noted there are signs with smily faces on them that can be placed in a homeowner’s yard, the smily face indicates it is a safe place for a child to go when they are not near their home and are being bullied or feel scared.
“My only concern with the smily faces, because I love the whole idea of it, is that anyone can put a smily face in their yard,” councilwoman Amanda Slaven said. “I don’t want my son stopping at someone’s home, that is not a good person, just because they have a smily face in their yard. I love the theory of it, but that is just my concern.”
Parsons said there would have to be some type of screening process in order for someone to be allowed to have a sign. She asked that Council request Adrian Ball, of the Neighborhood Watch program, to speak at a future council meeting regarding what is available to the citizens of Ravenswood in order for their home to be considered a “safe house.”
After Parsons spoke, Shinn stepped up to the podium to address another issue that has him concerned, people speeding on Walnut Street. He said he has not noticed any patrol cars in the area for a long time.
“When I do see cop cars in the area, they are going about 60-miles-per-hour, headed out of town,” Shinn said. “It’s like they’re drag racing or something.”
Miller said just because a police officer is traveling fast with no lights on, does not mean they are not on a call.
“I’m sorry, but they are not drag racing on the four-lanes, they’re just not,” Miller said. “I know they patrol.”
Miller said he has been thanked by business owners in the plaza for the work they see the officers doing by stoping people for speeding.
“The thing is they can’t be on Walnut Street, Washington Street, and the north end of town,” Miller said. “They’re not going to get everybody. They’re not going to get everybody who is not wearing a seat belt, they’re not going to get everybody who’s speeding, and that’s just a fact. To say they do not patrol, I take offense to that.”
Miller said that the officers have the tickets to prove they have stopped people for speeding and they maintain patrol logs as well.
“Everyone has their own perception of what we can do better, and that’s fine,” Miller said. “They’re not perfect, they are human like everyone else, but I appreciate what our officers do.”
Miller suggested that Shinn participate in a ride-along with an officer to see what a day in the life of a Ravenswood Police Officer is like.
Gene Morgan was the next to speak during the public forum discussion. He said Ravenswood is his hometown, it was his parents hometown, and his children’s hometown.
“I would like to see Ravenswood prosper and do better, and I think they can do better,” Morgan said. “I would like to see something done with the marvelous riverfront we’ve got...We need to also clean up all the buildings the city owns...and I would like to see more programs for youth. I’m not here to down anybody, I’d just like to see things improve and they can by working together.”
In other business:
• City Code Enforcement Officer Danny Mitchell provided an update on what they have done to assist in cleaning up the town. In 2018, 2019, and so far in 2020, he said they have made progress in getting dilapidated motorhomes and vehicles removed from properties, as well as getting several lawns cleaned up and mowed that were all in violation of the Public Nuisance Code. Mitchell reported they were able to do this due to Home Rule.
According to Mitchell, only five or six citations have been issued. In most cases he said the written notices were sufficient to fix the issues.
Miller wanted to make it known that according to Home Rule, Code Enforcement is no longer required to provide notices for violations of the Public Nuisance Code; however, the city will continue to issue notices to provide citizens with leeway to comply.
“Out of respect to our citizens, we’ve decided to keep doing this Notice of Violation System that we had in place, to give the property owner 10 days to get in line or at least set up a plan to get in line,” Mitchell said. “It’s working.”
City Recorder Jared Bloxton commended Mitchell for his time and dedication to this project. He said Mitchell is very professional and good with the citizens.
“If I was doing this for the money, I would’ve quit a long time ago,” Mitchell laughed. “I just want to see the city prosper, grow, and get cleaned up.”
One important thing that Miller feels is necessary to note is that Mitchell doesn’t just drive around town looking for things or “picking on” people, he follows up on complaints received by the city regarding areas needing addressed.
• The meeting minutes from the last three meetings were approved by Council.
• Council approved the recommendation from Mitchell regarding the addition of Cindy Carmichael to the Planning and Zoning Committee.
• Katrena Ramsey and Nicole Salser presented the Ravenswood Board of Parks and Recreation budget for 2020-2021.
“I want to make it clear to people that our income for the year that we work with is $18,000 and we manage to operate six parks with that income,” Ramsey said. “However, we do have a balance of $97,000 and that is because of grants and being frugal, and also saving money for projects that haven’t come yet.”
Ramsey said the budget is exactly like the one they had last year, other than they had more money than last year so it was evenly divided into four categories; capital improvements, equipment, programs and events, and operating expenses and advertising.
Copies of the BOPARC budget were made available at meeting and can be requested at City Hall.
“You guys are doing all the right things from a commission standpoint,” Miller said.
Future projects consist of upgrading the tennis courts, completing work on the MacIntosh House, repairing the roof at the pool, bringing the pool building into ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance, and adding an elevator lift at the NYA Hall. Ramsey is hoping to use grants from the ADA and Land & Water Conservation Fund to see these projects to completion. Funding for the continued work on the MacIntosh House has been secured through the Jackson County Commission.
Another project that Ramsey mentioned is trying to utilize the new City Hall first floor as an Art Gallery, featuring local artists and artwork. This is something she wishes to rotate monthly or every other month, allowing people the chance to see the talent that Ravenswood has to offer.
“I don’t throw around empty praise and compliments, but I’ve always thought, and never said, what a fantastic job you do and I know everyone on the Council appreciates your efforts,” councilman Steve Tucker said.
Bloxton added that he used to be “envious” of other city’s parks, but now he said he feels bad for them, because “What we have is even better.” He commended BOPARC with the work they have done to make Ravenswood’s parks not only beautiful, but useful to the community.
BOPARC meets at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of each month in the City Hall building. Meetings are open to the public and everyone is invited.
• Council voted to approve the BOPARC budget.
The next Ravenswood City Council meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4 in the City Hall building located at 1 Wall Street, third floor.