Funding

David Ashwell (right), president of Halifax County Dixie Youth baseball, and Steven Crutchfield, a leader in the organization, present an improvement plan for the Day Complex to South Boston Town Council at council’s Monday evening work session/ joint committee meeting at the Washington Coleman Community Center.

Halifax County Dixie Youth baseball presented an improvement plan for the Day Complex to South Boston Town Council at council’s Monday evening work session/ joint committee meeting at the Washington Coleman Community Center.

Dixie, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that relies on team sponsors and registration revenues for financial support but also has historically received financial assistance from the town of South Boston and the town of Halifax.

Dixie, Inc. president David Ashwell, along with one of the organization’s directors Steven Crutchfield, thanked town council for their support and asked them to consider allocating funding for the organization in their budget for fiscal year 2021-2022.

“Every year you all have given us money, and it’s been used I would say wisely and has helped run our league,” Ashwell said to council. “It’s helped with general year-to-date funds such as field maintenance and any minor projects that we need to do. Without that funding from you all, we wouldn’t be able to do that.”

Ashwell related to town council that Halifax County Dixie Youth baseball had a successful year in 2020 despite COVID-19 restrictions. Last year, the league consisted of more than 350 players, ages 4 through 19, divided among 34 teams.

“We had about 10 tournaments here last year and averaged about 25 teams per weekend (for each tournament). These teams weren’t just coming from our area. They were coming from other areas and were spending money here locally,” Ashwell said. “It was a big success. They want us to host six more tournaments this year.”

Crutchfield echoed Ashwell’s thoughts.

“People enjoy coming here. I think it’s a way that helps showcase the town; it brings people in,” he said.

While the Day Complex is a popular spot for youth baseball tournaments, the complex was constructed nearly 30 years ago and is starting to show its age, Ashwell noted in his Day Complex improvement plan.

Ashwell explained that the improvements to the baseball complex are essential to the safety of the young players on the field as well as the spectators who come to watch the games.

Cleaning and rebulbing the lighting at the complex is a major priority in the improvement plan, Ashwell shared. The improvement plan also states that the lighting at the Day Complex has not been properly serviced in nearly 20 years.

“When they’re playing at nighttime, it’s getting really hard to see,” the Dixie Youth Baseball president said. “On Field 1, it’s really dark at home plate, and without these lights, a child could get hurt.”

The other major safety concern at the Day Complex that needs to be addressed is the retaining walls that are failing, Ashwell said.

Councilman Winston Harrell asked for a cost estimate to replace the retainer walls. Crutchfield replied that it would cost approximately $7,000 to replace one retainer wall, and four walls are in “bad shape” and would need replacing.

Another major improvement that is needed at the Day Complex is bringing the bathrooms up to ADA standards (making them handicap accessible), Ashwell said. He added the concession stand also is in need of some improvements.

Crutchfield noted that he and other Dixie, Inc. leaders have worked hard for the past seven years to restructure Dixie Youth Baseball and build up the organization’s finances.

When he first joined Dixie, Inc.’s board of directors, Crutchfield said the organization had a bank account in the negatives. Now, he said the organization has enough money in the bank to maintain and upkeep the recommended upgrades to the Day Complex once they are made. Crutchfield added Dixie Youth Baseball has not had to raise the cost for its league players in eight years.

Several council members responded to Ashwell and Crutchfield’s funding request, and commended them for the job they are doing in keeping Dixie Youth Baseball going in Halifax County.

Councilman Tommy Elliott said he knows Ashwell, Crutchfield and the other volunteers with Dixie, Inc. donate not only their labor but also money out of their own pockets to maintain Dixie Youth Baseball.

“I think we need to step up and treat baseball the way we treat basketball and some other sports,” Elliott offered.

Vice-mayor Bob Hughes said he agrees with Elliott; the town of South Boston needs to support Dixie Youth Baseball.

“The impact you have on this community is incredibly commendable,” Hughes commented. “I thank you for what you do and the impact that you have.”

Councilman Joe Chandler echoed Elliott and Hughes’ comments. He said he would like to see council at least make an effort to help Halifax County Dixie Youth address the safety issues at the Day Complex that need to be addressed.

“They provide a program that is extremely vital to our community and to our young people,” Chandler commented.

Along with the Day Complex improvement plan presented by Ashwell and Crutchfield, council also heard the town’s audit report for fiscal year 2019-2020 and the town’s financial report for the month of January.

Stephen Gay, CPA at Harris, Harvey, Neal & Co. gave the audit report. He told council the audit revealed no significant changes from the prior year and no areas of concern, which was surprising when taking into account the potential impacts from COVID-19. Many businesses temporarily shut down in spring 2020 because of COVID-19.

“Collections were good, and surprisingly,” Gay told council. “You’ve got a strong balance sheet, no real issues…you all are doing a great job as far as finances go.”

Following Gay’s audit report, the town’s finance director Mickey Wilkerson gave the town’s finance report for the month of January. She noted the town is waiting on some grant reimbursements, which is one of the reasons why the cash operating balance is lower than usual, at $2,792,425.88.

Wilkerson also drew council’s attention to a miscellaneous revenue item – the town’s collections from operation of games of skill so far this year: $7,488. Town council voted in October to allow the operation of skill game machines in all of the town’s business districts.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.

Miranda Baines is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at mbaines@gazettevirginian.com.