City hammering out agreement to host Crappie Tournament

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 3, 2016

City hammering out agreement to host Crappie Tournament

By John Howell
Details of Batesville’s sponsorship of the 2017 American Crappie Tour’s Sardis Lake event are incomplete after an extensive discussion among city officials last month.

Aldermen voted unanimously during their May 17 meeting to underwrite sponsorship for $15,000 following a presentation on April 19 and again during the May meeting by Paul Alpers. Alpers cited benefits to the city including television advertising on outdoor channels, local radio promotion, a live video feed of the weigh-in, and a magazine feature.

The motion hinged on review and approval of the proposed contract by assistant City Attorney Colmon Mitchell as a condition for the mayor’s signature.

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Mayor Jerry Autrey said that signing the contract was delayed when Mitchell identified potential problems for the city in the document.

Several city officials then said that the Panola Partnership would be asked to sponsor the tour’s visit to Sardis Lake.

Panola Partnership CEO Sonny Simmons said Thursday that city officials had not yet requested it to become sponsor, but the arrangement could be similar to other tourist-attracting events that the city supports through the organization.

“We use the money they designate from the tourism tax,” Simmons said.
The June, 2017 Sardis Lake will guarantee a minimum of 70 boats entered, Alpers told the mayor and aldermen at their May meeting.

“The crappie bite all year round,” Alpers said. “We want to promote it to the world that it is a good summertime lake, too.”

With Alpers was Magnolia Crappie Club representative Jeremy Aldridge of Batesville. The Magnolia Crappie Club includes many local members and completed its nine-tournament schedule last weekend at Enid Dam. The local club supports the city’s sponsorship of the American Crappie Tour coming to Sardis Dam, Aldridge said.

“It’ll be all over the web site plus we’ll be doing stuff on TV,” Alpers said. The American Crappie Tour will begin with a Grenada Dam tournament March 10 and 11, he added.

Prizes will include a $50,000 payout to fishers plus a boat, he said.

“How many do you think of your club would fish in this?” Alderman Teddy Morrow asked Magnolia representative Aldridge.

“With the payouts he’s talking about probably out of Magnolia we’d probably have 25 or 30 folks,” Aldridge replied.

“I think it’s a good thing, and I’m a team player and I feel like everybody wants to do it, but (I’m not) in the habit of spending $15,000 for a fishing tournament and (I’m not) going to be doing this regular. If somebody else comes back we’re going to talk about if for a long time,” Alderman Stan Harrison said.

“If he were coming in hear and saying he was doing this in 20 places, all over, it’d be different,” Alderman Morrow said.

“I think we’re missing an asset from and development and promotional standpoint,” Alderman Eddie Nabors said, referring to city promotion Sardis and Enid reservoirs.

“If it turns out that it brings something back to the town — it may bring a lot back but if we don’t feel good about it the next time, then I’m probably going to say something about it.

“This is the first year’s trial and we’ll see what happens and then if it doesn’t pan out …,” Mayor Autrey said, trailing off without completing his statement.

“And if a bream tournament comes up, don’t tell me about it,” Aldermen Bill Dugger said. “I don’t want to hear it.”

Harrison and Dugger joined Nabors, Morrow and Alderman Ted Stewart to give Alpers’ request the board’s unanimous approval.