VILLA GROVE — Bad weather, hasty decisions and miscommunication caused a two-day, 13-team National Softball Association-sponsored tournament to be forced out of town last weekend. Summer recreation administrators and coaches addressed the council this week about how the cancellation decision was made and the impact of losing the event.
Jeanna Block, a member of the Summer Recreation board, said she believes the decision to delay or cancel should have been up to officers with her group and team coaches. Instead, alderman Tony Hooker and public works employee Rusty Craig were the ones who decided the fields were unplayable after surveying them following heavy rains Saturday morning.
Hooker, however, said it had been decided at an organizational meeting earlier in the year that Craig and the city would be involved in decisions involving fields at the Richman Sports Complex, due to previous problems.
He also said he communicated with Block later in the day that the tournament could resume in the afternoon if they were able to get the fields ready. But by the time that message was relayed to them, Block and softball coach Kerry Cheely said, NSA officials had already decided to move the tournament to St. Joseph.
"We were all trying to make a sound decision," said Cheely, who was working with the NSA and other coaches to keep the tournament in Villa Grove. Cheely said the tournament director wasn't happy, so he moved the tournament to St. Joseph, which got its fields ready quickly.
— In other business: The council changed Sunday liquor sales hours to begin at noon instead of 1 p.m. Businesses in the past have asked for special permission to open early or sell alcohol early during special events that fell on Sunday. The council decided to make it a permanent change.