When the Phillips County Boys and Girls Club moved into its new home two years ago, the arena was considered a marvel in many ways with the exception of playing basketball during the hot and humid Delta summers.

 

     When the Phillips County Boys and Girls Club moved into its new home two years ago, the arena was considered a marvel in many ways with the exception of playing basketball during the hot and humid Delta summers.
    “We couldn’t afford to have the gym air conditioned because of our commitment to move into the building debt-free,” Executive Director Jason Rolet said Monday.
     After an extensive search for funding, Rolet met with the Helena-West Helena City Council Monday night and received the panel’s unanimous endorsement to apply for a grant through the Arkansas Rural Development Commission to air condition the gym.
    Rolet told the council few gyms have air condition because basketball or other indoor activities are not played during the summer months.
   “We need a cool, safe place for our kids,” Rolet said.
   Rolet said the grant will not cover the entire cost for air conditioning but would enable the club to have it installed.
   “If we are approved for the grant we would like to the work done before next summer,” Rolet said.
   Accompanying the resolution before the council Monday night was a certification letter that stated that Mayor James Valley would “designate” himself as the person “ultimately responsible for the administration of the grant.”
   City Clerk Sandi Ramsey explained that the city would set aside an entry in its ledger so that if and when the grant is approved a check could be issued to the company awarded the contract for the air conditioning work.
   Alderman Tommy Hunt asked Rolet, “Why is this just being brought to the council now?”
   Alderman Jay Hollowell, serving as mayor pro tempore in the absence of Mayor Valley, intervened noting that Rolet approached him about the grant application on June 15  – one day after the council’s last regular meeting.
   “It took a while to put (the application) together,” Hollowell said.  He said today would be the deadline for filing the application.
   Had the council not approved the resolution Monday night it would have fallen on the Phillips County Quorum Court to meet in special session Tuesday night to approve a similar resolution.
   Hunt questioned why Mayor Valley would have final authority over dispensing of the funding from the grant to the club.
   Rolet said Phillips County Judge Don Gentry could be the other one overseeing the grant to the club.
   Hollowell and Rolet were in accord that the city should be the governing body overseeing the grant since the club is located in Helena-West Helena.
   Alderman Don Etherly called for the vote with Alderman Joe Grubbs seconding the vote for the resolution. The council had the bare minimum six aldermen present to adopt the resolution. They included Hollowell, Hunt, Grubbs, Etherly, Eddie Clark and Marvin Jarrett.
   During the grand opening of the new club at the corner of Plaza and the U.S. Highway 49 Bypass in 2008 the board noted that funds generated to renovate the former H&M Lumber Co. building and convert it into the boys club involved a countywide campaign.
  Rolet said at the time plans were drawn up the decision was made not to install air conditioning in the gym because it would have been beyond the budget that called for the club to open debt-free.