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Controversy over use of the pulling track at the county park continued last week, including stiff questions from the county attorney over events being scheduled without the fiscal court’s approval.
The topic surfaced during last Tuesday night’s meeting of the Anderson County Fiscal Court as magistrates considered a request to abandon its current lease system for the track in favor of simply renting it out.
David Carey, whose father, Eddie, has used the pulling track twice a year for the past several years to host major truck and tractor pull events, suggested that instead of having to verify income and expenses and donating profits to the county, magistrates could instead charge a flat weekend fee for its use.
“That would get rid of all the speculation about the money,” David Carey said, referring to criticism and unfounded rumors that his father pockets money from the events.
Magistrate David Ruggles jumped on those comments and reminded Carey that the park is public property and that there are rules in place that govern how it is to be used.
“That’s a whole different standard,” Ruggles said. “You need to collect the money in a certain way, you need to bring us receipts and show us what the cash is and it will end all of this speculation.
“I don’t think that’s ever been done, and I thought that’s what you were going to do. If you do this in the future, that’s what you need to do … and it will take all of this black cloud away.”
Carey said the next truck and tractor pull is scheduled for Derby weekend, which touched off even more questions from County Attorney Bobbi Jo Lewis.
“What I find disturbing is the way this is done,” Lewis said, directing her comments at the fiscal court. “Who approved this pull in May?
“This is public property and it needs to be observed as such. You have a lease for that property, and it needs to be abided by.”
Following a firestorm of questions sparked by pulls several years ago, the fiscal court developed a lease that requires those sponsoring pulls to have proper insurance and turn over documentation of expenses and receipts to the fiscal court within 30 days after the event.
Net proceeds are supposed to be turned over the fiscal court.
It is unclear if Carey has strictly adhered to those rules, but he has said repeatedly that the money he has raised has been used to improve the pulling track, including fencing that he and his workers installed a couple of years ago.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway confirmed that the rules haven’t been followed, saying that a truck tug group that frequently used the track for charitable events and a lawnmower pulling group have “only been in once or twice,” to provide revenue and receipt figures.
“Eddie’s been in once or twice, too,” Conway said.
David Carey argued that there are numerous expenses that are hard to define when putting on large events, including hauling in equipment from other areas, fuel costs and other services that aren’t necessarily billed out.
“This goes to the county park and benefits the whole community,” he said. “There are things you can’t put a number on. Eddie loses a lot of money on this.”
Following a break in the meeting, Conway said he had spoken with David Carey and that he had agreed to provide all requested documentation following the pull in May, followed by a unanimous vote of the court to allow the pull for May 3-4, followed by ATV races May 5.
Conservation district requests more money
Roy Toney of the Anderson County Conservation District asked the fiscal court to increase its contribution from $25,000 to $35,000 a year to make up for other losses.
His request came during last Tuesday night’s fiscal court meeting, but was tabled until he provides additional budget information for magistrates.
Toney said two other agencies have moved out of the district’s office in the past several years, forcing it to pay rent on its own.
The fiscal court voted unanimously to purchase a John Deere backhoe, the least expensive option of several bids it received.
“If the road foreman wants a John Deere, we ought to go with a John Deere,” said Magistrate David Ruggles.
Judge-Executive John Wayne Conway said the county will “write a check” and not finance the backhoe, and won’t trade it its old backhoe.
“We won’t get what it’s worth to us,” said Conway, noting that it can be used for roadwork, recycling and in the county park.