The Martinsville Mustangs team members have been recruited for the 2012 season, and officials are working to generate new revenue and sponsors.
Jim Taipalus, general manager of the summer league baseball team, updated Martinsville City Council on the team's status at council's meeting Tuesday. That came four months after city council agreed to a two-year extension for the team, despite the fact that it has never turned a profit. It lost $58,000 this year.
When the extension was granted in August, Taipalus and Coastal Plain League officials said they would work to find new sources of revenue and sponsorships and pursue other efforts to eventually make the team closer to self-sustaining.
Taipalus said Tuesday that head coach Matt Duffy will be assisted again this year by Monty Montgomery. The new team has five drafted players, the most ever, and 19 from Division I colleges and universities, compared with 11 from Division I schools this year, he added.
That shows larger schools are looking at Martinsville as a good place for their athletes to play baseball and live for the summer, Taipalus said, attributing some of that to the quality of the host families who house the players.
The team has created an advisory council and met twice with the league officials, Taipalus said. Among the revenue-generating ideas being considered are offering new concession items, including some high-profit foods, and selling sponsorships on a commission-only basis, which has been implemented.
One intern from Virginia Tech has been arranged for the summer, and another is expected from Ferrum College, Taipalus said, adding they will get college credit but no pay. The team hopes to get six interns this year and eventually have an all unpaid staff at the ballpark.
The Mustangs are selling booklets of tickets as Christmas stocking stuffers, he said, calling the 60 sold so far "a huge success." The goal is to sell 300.
So far, Taipalus said, the team has raised about $2,000 through fundraisers that is new revenue.
To cut costs, the team again will use the Patrick Henry Community College travel bus, reduce overnight trips from 10 to three and either feed the players before road trips or pack food for them to eat on the road.
In response to a question from Councilman Danny Turner, Taipalus said league officials will tour Hooker Field today to see the possibilities for a grandstand. When they provide a cost estimate, he said the team will pursue grants for the project.
Turner added that Del. Don Merricks, R-Pittsylvania County, is pursuing whether any grants might be available for possible solar facilities at the grandstand.
In other business Tuesday, council:
"¢ Recognized Barry M. Dorsey, executive director of the New College Institute since 2006, who is retiring Dec. 31. He was presented a plaque, and in turn he thanked the council for its support.
A resolution approved by council noted that under Dorsey's leadership, NCI has enabled 244 people to complete bachelor's and master's degrees.
"¢ Recognized Ercell W. Cowan, Martinsville Electoral Board general registrar since 1988, who is retiring Friday. Mayor Kim Adkins proclaimed Friday as "General Registrar Ercell E. Cowan Day" in Martinsville, and Cowan was given a framed key to the city.
"¢ Approved on a first reading a financing ordinance for the Building Energy Efficiency Project, which will face a public hearing and second reading on Jan. 10.
According to project documents, the funds would be used to finance capital improvements, including energy savings improvements of city buildings and facilities.
The ordinance would authorize issuance of up to $1,250,000 maximum principal amount of general obligation bonds and would prescribe details for managing the funds.
"¢ Heard from resident Ural Harris, who criticized American Municipal Power (AMP) for saying it is saving the city money, yet the costs of its power projects keep rising. The city has agreements with AMP to buy electricity generated by some of its facilities.
Turner called it "funny math."�
"¢ Heard from city engineer Chris Morris on concerns that a vendor was selling food in uptown Martinsville and taking business away from established businesses there. Morris said in October, a food vendor approached the city about setting up an operation in uptown. A questionnaire was distributed and revealed no objections to it, the business was licensed, and it was in good standing with the health department and Henry County, Morris said. Also, the operation fit the city's goals of creating a vibrant uptown area, he said.
Later in the meeting, the man who runs the operation in question told council it is a family business that hopes to employ other people and grow in the community.
Adkins said she is satisfied that the city looks at each vendor on a case-by-case basis and she does not favor changing the policy.
"¢ Was asked by resident Chad Martin to make a statement disagreeing with the positions of the Ku Klux Klan. Martin said the KKK is going to come to Henry County on Dec. 17, the sixth time this year, and he was concerned that the community is silent on the group.
All the council members, as well as City Manager Clarence Monday and City Attorney Eric Monday, said they do not agree with the KKK or support it. Councilmen Mark Stroud and Turner added, however, that the group has a right to assemble, whether they agree with it or not.
"¢ Heard comments from the council members.
Kimble Reynolds noted the death last week of the Rev. Randall Stevens, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Martinsville and who worked with the city's Human Relations Advisory Committee. Reynolds called Stevens "a rare ray of hope."
Turner also noted the death of William Williams, who had worked with the Martinsville Sheriff's Office and was an assistant football and baseball coach for more than 10 years.
Adkins urged residents to shop locally during the holiday season.
She also said the West Piedmont Planning District adopted its legislative agenda recently and did not support voting for a constitutional amendment that would limit instances when private property could be taken for public use, which is called eminent domain. She noted that the city had asked the commission to take that stand.
Council had been scheduled to meet in closed session but it was canceled.