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Ball tourney gets county support

The 2003 Major League Baseball World Series may have already come and gone, but preparations for the 2004 Babe Ruth World Series, aimed to be held at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College - Andalusia or a location to be determined later, are just underway.

The Covington County Commission unanimously voted Monday in favor of supporting the event, in which Chairman Greg White said follows the overwhelming success of the Babe Ruth tournament hosted last summer.

Andalusia Department of Leisure Services Director Dwight Mikel told commission members the series would actually draw large crowds two days prior to the first game of the anticipated nine-day event.

"We can add two days to the event, because the players and families will need to find lodging and practice time," Mikel said. "We can't house all the players coming in at once, or not that quickly."

White agreed with Mikel, and he said the tournament was a "general county effort," not limited to one group or area.

"We were asked by the city to adopt a resolution of support for the event," White said. "We will support the event."

Mikel added he contacted the governor's office and all the mayors in the area, including Opp, Florala, and Andalusia about hosting the event which would have players from around the world.

"This is a joint-effort," he said.

Since the series is a joint effort, support for the youth baseball finals will come from both city and county officials, according to Mikel.

"The event will be either held at LBW or a location decided upon by both the city and county (because of their proclaimed support)." he said.

Commissioners also unanimously voted in favor of purchasing 24-feet ceiling fans for the 2004 High School Rodeo Finals, with a budget from private funds totaling about $30,000. The commission originally considered accepting bids, but since there is only one supplier of the fans, the bids aren't required under law, according to White.

The commission, after close consideration, approved bids for horse stall rentals for the rodeo.

Several 22nd Covington County Judicial Drug Task Force agents will soon attend a seminar in Long Beach, Calif. Grant money has been approved to the force, but other expenses such as meals were not covered, according to White. The commission unanimously approved awarding money to cover the additional costs.

"The trip is for an educational seminar," White said.

The commission discussed the Alabama Public Work's Law which requires any project expense exceeding $50,000 to be open for bids. White referred to the FY 2002 Audit Report, which showed the projects for purchasing and paving asphalt totaled about $61,000; $45,000 for the asphalt and $16,000 for the labor. Although the expenditures were separate, they were a part of the same project, said White. White presented the problem to the commission, and he said they are waiting for an opinion from Attorney General Bill Pryor concerning the violation.

"It was a mistake on my part," White added. "Once we get an opinion from the Attorney General, we will address the matter further."

White and the commission will be awaiting the opinion, with the hopes of having an exception for a stand-alone bid. White said the bid process could be expensive to the commission for the project.

"Of course, we will award the project to the lowest bidder," White said. "We will also have to advertise the bids in newspapers. Some of the papers which we may advertise in could include papers in Montgomery and Mobile, as well as local newspapers."

The commission will attempt to improve funding for the budget, continued White.

"We'll have to cut and control costs, in order to balance much of the funding," he said.