Neosho swears in new council members, talks disc golf

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

The Neosho City Council met for their bi-monthly meeting on Apr. 20, thanking outgoing council members, swearing in new council members and talking disc golf.

The first order of business was a proclamation thanking outgoing council members, Mayor Carmin Allen, who had served since April of 2018, and Tom Workman, who had served since Apr. 2017.

From left to right: City Clerk Cheyenne Wright, City Manager David Kennedy, Tom Workman, Carmin Allen and Angela Thomas after Workman and Allen were presented with proclamations thanking them for their service.

Bill no. 2021-19, amending the powers and duties of the Golf Course Board (GCB) was passed after it had been tabled twice since the Mar. 16 meeting with members of the GCB raising concerns with how the golf course was being run.

Before it was passed, Workman clarified that the GCB input would be taken into consideration with new hires while the city would still have the final say.

After the rest of the unfinished business, council was adjourned so that the newest members of council, Ashton Robinson, Julie Humphrey, Richard Davidson and Charles Collinsworth could be sworn in.

Mayor/Mayor Pro Tempore

The first order of business for the now seven-member council that included the four newly sworn in council members, in addition to Angela Thomas, William Doubek and Tyler DeWitt, was to elect a Mayor and Mayor Pro Tempore.

Doubek and Davidson were nominated for Mayor, Doubek was voted Mayor with yes votes from himself, Davidson, DeWitt, Humphrey, Thomas and Collinsworth.

Davidson, DeWitt and Collinsworth were nominated for Mayor Pro Tempore.

The first round of voting had no majority winner with the next course of action being to vote until someone wins or a nominee voluntarily dropped.

Davidson was elected Mayor Pro Tempore shortly after with yes votes from himself, Collinsworth, Doubek and Robinson.

Disc Golf

The lengthiest item of discussion under new business came from Frank Hebert, representing the Neosho Disc Golf Club.

Hebert came to council in March in hopes to partner with the city to expand the 5th annual Return of the Little Big Show Disc Golf Tournament into a two-day event to draw more competitors from out of town.

The Little Big Show tournament initially ran from 2008-2014 and was revived in 2016 when Hebert moved back to the area and started it again in 2017, dubbing it “The Return of the Little Big Show.”

A sheet provided to council at the Mar. 16 meeting what Hebert was looking for as far as financial assistance, which totaled $4,786 for player packs the Jul. 31 tournament.

Partnering with the city for the players packs would mean adding any fund-raised fees to the prize pools for professional and amateur players.

As a competitor in some big tournaments himself, Hebert added that these are all things that he’s taken notice of that helped grow those tournaments over the years.

The long term goal is to make the tournament a destination, with people willing to come compete and experience Neosho with the possible future addition of a players party that would provide food trucks, activities and other things to help increase tax revenue by bringing people to the community.

“I’m trying to start small,” said Hebert on Mar. 16. “And build into kind of what they did, building into what they have now.”

Hebert told council the biggest issue he has seen with the current tournament format, and if they were to change the tournament to a two-day event, is that less people would be willing to come because their cost vs. benefit increased significantly.

In 2017, the first year of the tournament, there were 77 players, there were 84 in 2018 and 74 in 2019 before 135 came out in 2020.

Hebert also calculated the percentage of attendees from over an hour away, which was the projected distance people that people would be willing to stay overnight for a two-day event. In 2017, 68.83% were from an hour or more away, in 2018 it was 65.48%, in 2019 it was 58.11% and in 2020 it was 57.04%.

The projections for this year’s tournament, based off the previous three-year averages and projected attendance with increased prize pools, were for 160 players with 62.5% coming from over an hour away.

At the Mar. 16 meeting, Allen asked City Manager David Kennedy how the city could help in terms of funding and Kennedy responded they could look at the hotel/motel fund to see what was available.

Allen told Hebert to connect with Kennedy and to bring that information back to council which is what he did at the Apr. 20 meeting.

At the Apr. 20 meeting, Parks Superintendent Clint Dalbom told council they had options to present to council for the city to partner with the tournament.

The three options presented by Hebert to council included his original proposal for the city to sponsor player packs at a cost of $4,786, $4,500 used to bolster the professional and amateur payouts as added cash and for the city to sponsor payouts and trophies for winners of each division.

“We’re approaching the point idk how much more I can grow it by myself,” said Hebert at the Apr. 20 meeting.

Questions from council included how he got the player data and projections for attendees this year, corporate sponsorships the tournament currently had, if last years pandemic had contributed to the success of the tournament last year and if it was currently budgeted for.

Robinson, who said she has experience growing tournaments, offered to help Hebert regardless of the outcome this year and commended him for growing the tournament as much as he had thus far.

Collinsworth also thanked Hebert for his passion and achievement of growing the tournament.

After Doubek asked how Hebert was advertising the tournament, he asked city staff if they would be able to put the event on their website and social media to which Kennedy replied that they could.

Doubek asked Hebert what he was asking council to decide on with the three options presented and Hebert said the first option with the city contributing $4,500 to the professional and amateur payouts as added cash would give the city the least amount of gray area.

“I know sometimes if the city gets into buying things, people ask, ‘hey, well you bought them this, and them this,’ and it can get into a gray area,” said Hebert. “In my opinion, that’s the one I would recommend.”

Doubek then wanted to know where would the $4,500 come from if approved at that meeting and Kennedy said it would have to come from the hotel/motel fund while adding a budget amendment would be necessary.

“One thing that can be said, our Holiday Classic usually gets $15,000 a year,” said Kennedy. “They opted for $5,000 this year and then came back and said they won’t need to utilize any of those funds. If future plans for council is to (continue to) fund the Holiday Classic, then keep it in mind if you’re going to approve other organizations from that fund balance. In all honesty, it’s stretched right now.”

Davidson asked Hebert when he needed to know by, and Hebert said he had wanted to get the answer as soon as possible with the hopes to open registration on May 1.

Collinsworth recommended that council reconvene between now and the first council meeting in May to allow the city to look at the options put forth and an amendment be made to the hotel/motel fund for expenditure if it chooses.