Caryville mayor Chris Stanley told parents what they wanted to hear during Monday night’s meeting.
Families of the children who play for the Dixie Youth League packed the boardroom to voice their concerns that the mayor wouldn’t allow their league to utilize Asbury Park.
“Martin Luther King and Fuzz Asbury and Gordon Smith all three had one thing in common. That was they had a dream. Their dream was for the children of this county, which included the children of this city,” said Caryville resident Jeanie Wallace. “At one point in time, Asbury Park was a dump. Nothing whatsoever. Our children and this league, along with this city, have helped keep this park up, but it is a public park. Why are our children not going to be allowed to play ball this year on Dixie League?”
“I don’t know who told you that,” Stanley answered. “There’s going to be ball as usual at Asbury Park. There will be a league at Asbury Park. We right now are planning on doing a league, USSSA. It is a league that we have been part of in Caryville before.”
Last year, the LaFollette and Caryville Dixie Youth leagues joined to make a Campbell County league. The move meant 200 fewer players participated, according to Stanley.
“You are welcome to play in Dixie and play down here too. You don’t have to choose one or the other,” Stanley said.
Wallace questioned who would run the league.
“I might,” Stanley said.
Several of the parents who stood with Wallace asked who made the decision to bring in a new league.
“We did,” Stanley answered.
“You and your brother did,” the group replied.
“We don’t want to change leagues, we’re happy where we’re at,” Wallace said.
Emily Hatmaker’s nephew plays for the Dixie Youth League. She also asked the mayor reconsider his decision.
“Why change something that over 500 kids have enjoyed every spring with the Dixie Youth league?” she asked. “We as citizens of Caryville are asking you, the council, to vote and give the league permission to use the public park known as Asbury Park.”
Her plea was met with applause from the crowd.
“I appreciate your speech. Very well done,” the mayor said. “I’m actually not taking anything away from anybody. It’s everybody’s choice what they play. There will be a league offered to every citizen of Caryville, Jacksboro, LaFollette,” he said.
“Nobody’s gonna play for your league,” Wallace told him. “You want your personal agenda satisfied at the expense of [the children].”
“We will try to work out a deal,” Stanley answered. “I promise you this, we will work with the board on the Dixie Youth and work out a [solution] so they can use the fields.”
The agreement won’t be without some changes, Stanley says no ball games will be played after 9:30 p.m.
“It’s just too late. I mean, I’m sorry. That’s one of the problems with the league,” he said.
Former Caryville alderman Wade Lawson has been involved with the Dixie Youth League for 20 years. He only wants to make sure the kids can still play ball.
“I don’t want to cause no fuss or fight with them because I don’t think the kids will benefit from it,” he said. “Just let the kids play ball.”
If an agreement cannot be worked out between Stanley and the Dixie Youth League, Lawson says the group will not be deterred.
“We’ll still play ball. We’ve still got four fields in LaFollette we’ll play on,” he said.