Coach claims CAAA working against his team

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By Mark Scohier, Staff writer

A bit of a disruption ended with Chiefland officials playing mediator over use of Strickland Park at Monday night’s regular City Commission meeting.

Chiefland  travel baseball league coach Russell Hinote told commissioners his team of 9 and 10-year-old baseball players, which he referred to as “The Tribe,” has been denied access to the fields for games in recent weeks.

“CAAA is making an attempt to keep us from playing in the park,” he said.

The Chiefland Area Athletic Association, known for organizing various sports leagues throughout the year, has locked up its portable pitching mounds and, on one occasion, flooded the field with the sprinkler system, Hinote said. The organization even locked up the one portable mound owned by the city, and then they broke it, he said.

“It was done deliberately in an attempt to keep us from playing.”

Hinote, there with parents and several children dressed in baseball uniforms, said that’s why he filed a complaint with the city.

CAAA President Wayne Weatherford, from the back of the commission room, said, “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”

Weatherford said CAAA locks up the equipment it owns and was unaware that the city had purchased one of the portable pitching mounds. Weatherford, who has been with the organization for more than 20 years, asked, “When did the city step in and start purchasing stuff?”

And, he said about the “deliberate” flooding, CAAA volunteers don’t even know how to turn the sprinklers on. And on top of all that, no one has tried to contact him, he said. “Everybody knows how to get ahold of me.

“We could care less. They can use the fields.”

Mayor Teal Pomeroy said staff and officials would try to get the situation worked out.

Commissioner Betty Walker said it was a shame that the issue, which was discussed for the better part of 30 minutes, had to even be brought before the commission. She commented that City Manager Kevin Gay should have tried to iron out the matter beforehand.

“You all are not acting like grown people,” she said, adding that there were children in attendance who would, ultimately, resort to similar squabbling out on the baseball field.

“This shouldn’t even come here. This doesn’t even make sense to me,” Walker said, later making a motion that was approved unanimously to purchase another pitcher’s mound to replace the one that Hinote said was broken.

There were several complaints toward the end from members of the audience about CAAA. One man said Weatherford had done a great job in the beginning with the organization but had dropped the ball in the last several years.

Pomeroy told him, “The park would not be like it is without CAAA,” adding that the organization does a lot to keep it in shape. “The City of Chiefland is not going to get into running ball games, not while I’m up here.”