The Brazil City Parks Board has a new president, but is dealing with some old problems.
Caroline McCullough was elected president in a 4-1 vote Wednesday night, replacing Ruthann Jeffries.
Before officer elections, Jeffries made an emotional statement that she would not be able to fulfill presidential duties in 2008 because of personal issues.
Treasurer Linda Messmer then proposed a slate of McCullough as president, Jeffries as vice president, Brad Deal as secretary, and Messmer retain her position of treasurer.
Deal seconded the motion.
Board members then praised Jeffries for her work as president.
McCullough now has the challenge of working with an unknown budget, as well as resolving park usage issues with the city.
Messmer was unable to give a treasurer's report because of the current effort by the city to "clean up" the books. An accountant has been hired from Umbaugh and Associates, who is making adjustments to city finance records to more accurately reflect spending.
Because of the adjustments, and the report not being completed until February, Messmer was unable to get accurate numbers for her usual report.
She asked for bare-minimum spending before a budget is available, as well as patience with the newly elected administration while it adjusts to its new offices.
But the city was not off the hook for an ongoing issue brought up at the meeting.
Dumpsters for city recycling have been moved onto city park grounds, behind the zoo building at Craig Park.
Jeffries was told Sam Emmert, who owns rental properties near the park, complained about residents having the dumpsters in view of their homes, and the dumpsters were moved onto park property.
Jeffries called Brazil Mayor Ann Bradshaw, who agreed the dumpsters should not be on park land, and said she was willing to work toward a solution.
Park Superintendent Bill Houck advised the board about a fifth-wheel trailer, pipes and other city refuse which had been dumped south of the zoo building, as well.
This information launched the board into an emotional discussion about the presence of the refuse, as well as the city's use of Craig Park to dispose of branches collected by the city's street department.
Areas of Craig Park have been in the process of being cleaned up, especially with the addition of high school cross country races and the promotion of the park as a walking destination.
Jeffries said she was concerned that visitors will see the refuse, and the park will appear to be a dump.
Deal added, "We've made so many steps forward with that park, and then the city throws us a few steps back."
The board decided two members would ask for a meeting with Bradshaw about the concerns over the use of park property by the city.
Also during the meeting, Tyler Hutchison, head of decorating for Christmas in the Park, thanked the board for letting the group use Forest Park again this year.
Hutchison said his biggest problem was the wind, which damaged many signs and decorations.
To remedy the wind problem, he is recommending signs be redone by Clover Signs, who created the city sign which held up through the gusts.
Almost all of the shelters had their decorations removed, with Thursday being the deadline for clean up.
Hutchison also said park security prevented vandalism. He said there were only two incidents, and they both happened during the decorating period.
Hutchison asked the board for permission to have Christmas in the Park pay to have power run to a gazebo in Forest Park and to have a tree planted in a for the board to decide on.
The board accepted the gesture from Christmas in the Park.
In other business, the board discussed current contracts and decided to make one change.
With the addition of carriage rides to Popcorn Festival, the parks board asked that a clause for daily manure removal by the ride provider be added. The same clause is in the Christmas in the Park contract.
The board also approved continuation of park security, with hours of security at the discretion of Houck.
Houck reported the new pole barn was erected, and the new tractor purchased by the board was stored in the new building.
Minor changes were made to mowing specifications, and Jeffries presented a list of achievements from 2007 and goals for 2008.
Jeffries also reminded the board that insurance inspections are coming up, and to follow recommendations to the best of ability.