Neosho to hold special meeting for golf course

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

At the Mar. 16 Neosho City Council meeting, members of the Neosho Golf Association were on hand to voice their concerns with a bill that amended powers and duties of the golf course board which is an advisory board to the city on golf course affairs.

City staff have been aligning all city boards, not just the golf board, with each other, specifically, the duties of each board.

Bill 2021-19 would amend the current code and give the golf course committee the power to develop and recommended rules and regulations at any city golf course within confines of existing law, recommend charges and fees for golf course facilities and develop and recommend plans for growth and improvement of city golf courses. 

Rex Budd, Chairman of the Golf Course Board, and Clark Rhoades, President of the Men’s Neosho Golf Association, both spoke on Mar. 16 before that bill was discussed.

“In less than 12 months,” said Budd at the Mar. 16 meeting. “Through questionable termination or resignation, the City has lost three experienced golf course employees and no qualified replacements are in sight. Sadly, at this time we have zero course operational knowledge on (city) staff. The last few months the golf course hasn’t been included in some very critical personnel decisions.”

“With no course experience left on staff, the boards input would be too valuable to eliminate at this time,” added Budd on the proposed bill. “I strongly urge the council to not pass (Bill No.) 2021-19.”

“Unfortunately, the management turnover last year gave us cause for concern,” said Rhoades, speaking after Budd. “But we felt it was even more critical and crucial for us to put the MGA together so we could give some continuity for our golfing community in the midst of turbulent change.”

“I really hope we can come together as a community to ensure the continued success and progress of the course,” said Rhoades. “That said, for the avoidance of doubt, we wanted to clearly state the MGA does not endorse the direction we are currently headed in.”

Rhoades added that they planned to get outstanding bills current as to not turn anything over to the city in arrears, and at that time, he would step down as MGA President.

Later in the Mar. 16 meeting, Mayor Carmin Allen proposed, and the council agreed, to table bills 2021-19 and 2021-20 until the first council meeting in April with plans to meet with golf course members in the coming weeks to learn about the situation with the goal of resolving the issue at the April meeting.

The Oaks Golf Course in Neosho.

The city met with representatives from the golf board the week prior to the Apr. 6 council meeting and a special meeting was scheduled for Apr. 12 at 7 p.m. in council chambers where city staff and council would hear and speak on concerns from the golf board.

“I asked for more details from the city clerk today on what style that will be,” Richard Clemons, a member of the golf board, told the Neosho Daily News on Apr. 8. “Is it, we just sit in front of them and tell them all the issues? A town hall style meeting? Which I think that’s what Carmin wants it to be, from talking to him.”

At the Apr. 6 council meeting, Clemons spoke to council regarding the golf course.

“It showcases the disconnect between the city staff; the city manager, city council and the parks director/golf superintendent, and the communication between the (golf board) and them,” said Clemons on Apr. 8. “With the inexperienced staff that’s out there, on the city council and the parks director’s role as the (course) superintendent, they really should be asking for input from people who have knowledge rather than limiting it.”

“I’ve stated in the past, (Parks Superintendent) Clint (Dabolm), when he assumed the title of golf superintendent last summer, he’s not qualified to act as a golf superintendent,” added Clemons. “He doesn’t do any of the duties a golf superintendent does, as outlined by a basic job description. The city, when all that was going down last summer, should have searched out a golf superintendent candidate to go on staff. “

“Though some of you have branded me as a trouble maker, you should expect no less from me or anyone as a volunteer member of a board you have created to try and assist a group of people that do not play golf, with golf related things,” said Clemons in his closing comments at the Apr. 6 council meeting. “Vote as you will on the ordinance change, but the incoming council should be well aware of the situation facing it. Three of you sitting here tonight will have to continue dealing with this problem or may choose not to.”

On Apr. 6, bill 2021-19 and 2021-20 were again on the agenda. Bill 2021-20 would adjust the composition of the golf board to 11 members with seven voting members and four non-voting ex oficio members. Those four non-voting ex officio members would be a member of city council and the Presidents of the Men’s, Women’s and Senior Golf Associations of Neosho.

The board currently has seven voting members and three non-voting ex oficio members.

City Manager David Kennedy referenced bill 2021-20, the cities goal to align the boards and that it was to solely add a council member to the golf board.

“The golf board had a language in it none of the others did,” Kennedy told council. “This wasn’t something from staff that was trying to be back doored or anything of that nature. We have done this not only with things such as the board with the golf course. We’ve done it with the parks department, we have done this type of thing with a lot of other things in the city that didn’t align with what our goals were.”

“If council tables it again,” added Kennedy. “(City) staff needs direction, at some point, on where to go. I realize the contingency but in the same token, in all honesty, I think the council needs to make a decision and be done with it.”

Councilman Tom Workman suggested tabling those bills until the special meeting scheduled for Apr. 12 and they moved to table those two bills.

“The deterioration of the course as it currently sits today, Apr. 8, just in the last two to three weeks, it’s really gone downhill,” said Clemons. “A lot of it was, (the city) didn’t realize what needed to be done.”

Council later approved an item in unfinished business approving a contract with Logan Paving for $55,000 for 5,280 feet of repairs where needed and root removal under the cart paths at the golf course.

Later in that meeting, Dalbom would update the council on happenings at the golf course.

A new pro shop manager had been hired with Dalbom adding they had another open position with a few applicants to interview.

Dalbom went over the chemical fertilizer schedule that include fungicide, fertilizer application and preemergent application with the plans to apply a fungicide to the greens during the week.

Spraying was planned for early Thursday; aeration of the greens is scheduled for Apr. 29 with the course to be closed that day.

The irrigation system that had frozen due to abnormally colder temperatures to start the season has been fixed, with Dalbom adding that they had been watering the greens twice a day with the help of the fire department until it was repaired.

Soil tests on the fairways have been done and sent to Missouri University for analyzation. Dalbom added that there was a good amount of sheet erosion on many fairways, with an inch and a half of soil where they proved for the soil test.

Dalbom told council that the original nine holes of the course had been there for nearly 100 years and that over time, soil loss has been reduced from 6-8 inches originally to the inch and a half that was recently probed.

Dalbom said that the soil test would tell them how to protect what they have left with it being nearly impossible to bring in soil to cover all the necessary areas.