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Dick Stephens voted out as park board president

by Ivan Foley
Landmark editor

A highly anticipated election of officers for the Platte City Parks and Recreation board took place Monday night, and there has been a change at the helm.

Dick Stephens, who has been at odds at various times with Platte City Mayor Dave Brooks, was voted out as board president. John Minyard was selected as the new officer in charge by a vote of 6-3.

With the full board in attendance—previous minutes show it's rare when all members are present for a monthly meeting—Minyard was first nominated for president by Marsha Clark. Stephens was then nominated by Chris Wallen.

Voting for Minyard were Clark, Bart Bradley, John Kurtz, Steve Sampsell, Tom Wooddell, and Minyard.

Members voting for Stephens were Chris Wallen, Susan Wallen and Stephens.

Minyard said his nomination for the office did not come as a surprise to him at the meeting.

"No, it was not a surprise. I wanted it. With a 6-3 vote, I wasn't the only one that felt we needed a change," Minyard told The Landmark Tuesday.

"Nothing against Dick, he's done a wonderful job. We just need something new," he added.

Last week, sources reported the mayor had approached Bradley about possibly seeking the post of president. But Bradley's frequent absences from meetings were reported in last week's Landmark and he has also had recent complaints made about him for alleged behavior incidents at youth soccer games he helps coach. These factors may have tilted the majority opinion away from Bradley and toward Minyard as Stephen's successor.

Stephens, whose term as a board member expires in 2005, would have preferred to keep the post of president. He'll continue to serve as a member.

"I'm very disappointed. I had asked the mayor to make the appointments (of new board members Kurtz and Sampsell) not effective until after we voted on officers because these people would have no personal knowledge on whom to vote for. They would only have knowledge from other sources. The mayor evidently decided he wanted them to vote because they voted," Stephens said Tuesday.

Stephens, who also serves on the parks and rec board for Platte County, said at the county level new members typically don't vote for officers.

"We vote for officers and then we bring them onto the board," he said.

Kurtz and Sampsell are new appointments made by the mayor at the May 25 board of aldermen meeting. The mayor put the appointments on the aldermen's consent agenda, which allowed for no public discussion prior to their approval.

When questioned by Alderman Ron Porter about the placement within the consent agenda, Brooks said the action was necessary to get the members on board prior to the election of park board officers.

At that same May 25 meeting, Brooks reappointed Bradley and Clark to the park board, despite the fact both of them have missed more meetings than they have attended over the past year.

All four of the mayor's May 25 appointments voted against Stephens for president.

Stephens said he would work toward helping Minyard make a smooth transition into the role of president.

"I've called him twice today (Tuesday). I offered my congratulations and offered to work as a liaison with the county on the Platte Ridge project.”

Minyard sounds anxious to get rolling.

"I'm excited. I want to try to get things done, get things moving in a different direction," he said.

One of his early priorities, he indicated, will be to speed up the board meetings.

"Some (members) were disappointed things drug out as long as they did," he said about Monday night's meeting, which lasted 2½ hours.

"We need a little bit more order and get things done in a more orderly fashion," Minyard explained.

He said meetings might move along at a quicker pace if park members with questions would call park director Dannie Stamper with questions or concerns prior to meetings.

Others elected to positions of officers on Monday were:

Tom Wooddell was elected vice president over Bart Bradley; Steve Sampsell, secretary, elected over Marsha Clark; and Bart Bradley, treasurer, unopposed.

In other action at Monday night's meeting, the park board:

•Voted to hold the daytime activities normally associated with the city's Fourth of July celebration on July 3 this year. July 4 falls on a Sunday and the board does not want to conflict with church activities. The fireworks display and nighttime program will still be held on July 4.

•Voted to provide free hot dogs, sodas and snow cones at the pool area during the July 3 activities.

•Discussed that city hall may have wrong term expiration dates on record for some park board members. The city clerk will be asked to research the terms.

•Heard that the committee that oversees the park and rec soccer program had dealt with complaints against the behavior of Bart Bradley, assistant coach of a youth soccer team and member of the park board, by deciding Bradley will not be allowed to coach in any capacity in future seasons (see related story).

•Discussed the possibility of hiring an outside person to take minutes of meetings. Stamper told the board cost of this could be around $23 per hour. As of now, the board secretary is taking minutes. Wooddell said during the meeting that he would like to see a hired person perform the duties because the job "takes away from a board member participating because they're busy taking notes." The matter is expected to be discussed again at a future meeting.


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