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Aldermen ponder whether wedding is good fit for Mounds

On split vote, the Batesville City Board agreed to allow a local firefighter to have a wedding ceremony at the Mounds recreational area on Hwy. 35 North.

 

By a 3-2 vote, the Mayor and Board of Aldermen last week approved the request of a city firefighter who wants to have his wedding ceremony at Batesville Mounds.

William Broome was on the agenda of the board’s Tuesday meeting representing his son, Jake Broome. The elder Broome said his son is the only third-generation firefighter at the Batesville Fire Department and could not make the meeting because of duty.

The Broomes asked aldermen for permission to have a ceremony Aug. 15 at Batesville Mounds because the family has close ties to the city-owned recreational area in northeast Batesville just off Hwy. 35 N, across from the Crown, Cork & Seal factory location.

From the time the Mounds were opened in 2016 with a grant from the Mississippi Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks, the Broome family has used the walking trail and open areas many times, William Broome said.

“My son has a strong desire to have his wedding ceremony at the Indian Mounds,” said. “He really loves the place. He did his Eagle Scout project there with the Nature Trail, and that’s where he had his Eagle Scout ceremony.”

Broome was before the board because use of any of the city’s parks or public places are off-limits to anything other than recreational use and permission is required to have events.

The board has discussed limiting the types of activities at city-owned parks since last summer, but has not adopted any of the draft ordinances given to them by their attorney in the last year.

Specifically, aldermen have discussed how the parks may be used, who may use them, and what the limitations of the activities requested include. With both the parks and the Downtown Square area, the board has been reluctant to adopt an official, binding policy, preferring to hear from each applicant on a per-event basis.

In each case, the board has given approval for a number of events with mostly unanimous votes until this week.

Two aldermen, Stan Harrison and Teddy Morrow, voted against the proposed wedding at Batesville Mounds, but both were quick to say their objections were allowing any special uses without first reviewing and adopting a comprehensive plan for city property.

“I’m not necessary against this, but we have put a lot into the Indian Mounds and it’s a sacred kind of area,” Harrison said. “If we start doing things like this out there there will be other things that come up.”

“We don’t have any rules out there and there’s been too much going on for anybody to be using it until we have some kinds of regulations,” he said.

Morrow said he also would rather adopt a city-wide parks policy before issuing any more approvals for events.

See additional Batesville Mound photos here:

Additional photos of the Batesville Mounds area.

 

In the past, aldermen have resisted efforts to have the parks used for family reunions and large group events. They have said use of the parks for things other than regular individual or family recreation burdens the police department who need extra patrols for large gatherings.

Mostly, the board wants to preserve the integrity of the parks for citizen use, and not give opportunity for more controversial gatherings and activities without some measure of control.

Broome pointed out that many people use the parks, especially the scenic Mounds area for a variety of events now, often posting senior portraits, engagement photos, and similar things, on social media sites.

“He just wants to get married there, that’s all we’re asking,” Broome said.

Alderman Bill Duggar said he thinks the city needs a structured ordinance, but thought a wedding would be a positive image for the Mounds and the city. He made the motion to allow the wedding, and it passed with two other votes from Dennis Land and Bobby Walton.

Duggar included in his motion language stating the wedding party would clean any debris, and that the park would remain open and accessible to the public during the ceremony. “Somebody may want to walk on the trails during the wedding,” he said. “If this thing brings positive attention to our park then I don’t have any problem with it. That’s what the parks are for.”

In another citizen request in the same meeting, Lattoria Morris was given permission to hold a “Day of Prayer” observance at the Downtown Gazebo from 5 to 6 p.m. on May 2. The annual event has been held at The Cross before, but Morris said organizers believe more of the city’s residents would attend at the centrally-located Square.

“We want it to be a community thing to shine some light on Panola County,” she said.

Both Broome and Morris, like all others granted permission to use city property, will also be responsible for obtaining an insurance policy to cover their activities at the Mounds and the Downtown Gazebo.