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City addresses storm damage at sports complex

The Russellville City Council agreed at Monday night’s city council meeting to adopt A resolution declaring a state of emergency because of March 27 weather that severely damaged John Blackwell Sports Complex.

Councilmembers said this move will put the Parks and Recreation Department one step closer to being able to make the necessary repairs.

“We ask that everyone just please bear with us,” said Russellville Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Flanagan. “We lost two fields that we depend on every day for games and practice.”

City Clerk Belinda Miller said typically the department would have to post the project for bids for a certain amount of time, but because of the declared state of emergency, the city is able to skip the traditional bidding process.

The resolution also gave Flanagan approval to make decisions for all necessary repairs without having to go through the city council.

Although Russellville Parks and Recreation is now managed under the school board, all parks and recreation property still belongs to the city. Miller said part of the agreement when the school board took over parks and rec operations was that all major repairs would be approved by the city council.

Flanagan said the March 27 storm inflicted a lot of damage to the sports complex, and it will be a lengthy process to get everything replaced.

He said the damage is being assessed by insurance, and after that he will look at bids to repair damages.

Flanagan said 10 sets of bleachers were damaged, and there was damage to all field backstops, as well as roof damage on all buildings and pavilions and fence damage. Two dugouts were destroyed.

Flanagan said the hope is that repairs will happen in the next five to six weeks, but details are still up in the air.

Four tournaments have been canceled because of the damage to the fields, and several other games have been relocated to other fields.

“Right now we are currently only playing on the front two fields, so it has made things a challenge,” Flanagan said. “We just hope to have things repaired as quick as possible.”