ACFL Cancels Season

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

PALESTINE – Despite several pleas from Palestine residents and those involved with the Anderson County Football League (ACFL), it appears as if the season will be cancelled following a delay of game penalty against the Palestine City Council.

During a meeting of the ACFL board members on Saturday, the board approved a motion to cancel the upcoming season, if the city council did not take action during the July 23 council meeting to extend or rework the ACFL’s contract with the city to utilize the athletic complex for practice and games.

Once the Monday night meeting was called to order, four area residents spoke on behalf of the ACFL.

The first to speak on the matter was former Anderson County Judge and current ACFL President Carey McKinney.

McKinney said he had been involved with the ACFL for many years and said the league helped provide a boost to the Palestine economy.

“We had a contract with the city of Palestine for many years. What you need to understand is every time we practice, we practice at the Palestine Athletic Complex. We don’t take our money out of town. We use the lights Mondays and Tuesdays. Where do those people go after eight o’clock at night during the school year? They go to restaurants, they go to the store in Palestine. They don’t go somewhere else,” he said.

“A lot of this is all about money,” the former judge continued. “This new document doesn’t guarantee us any fields.”

McKinney added he had requested to be on the agenda for the July 23 meeting but had been refused.

“I wanted to ask you to suspend the rules, ask you for a contract tonight and we will work with you about tournament. At the same time, we can sit down and discuss it,” he said.

Melvin Coleman, a coach in the ACFL, followed McKinney and said the league did much more than teach kids to play football.

“We don’t think we’re getting kicked out. We just think we aren’t allowed to use the facilities because of dollars. I don’t want to be one of those people to say it was a good idea but it just wouldn’t work – even if it’s shut down for just one season,” he said.

The issue centers on the usage of the athletic complex by baseball teams who will play in tournaments at the athletic complex and possibly bring in more revenue for the city. The city has proposed allowing the ACFL to use the complex unless a tournament is underway.

The 38-year-old program typically serves well over 200 kids per year, between the ages of eight and 12.

During his remarks, Palestine Mayor Steve Presley said, “No one is ever trying to do anything to decrease the ACFL’s participation. The taxpayers want to allow more groups to utilize the complex, if they wish and not limit them with exclusive contracts. I’m sure, I feel certain that city management will give the ACFL plenty of space to continue to operate the league the way they have been operating it. No one is going to run them off. Others would like to use the fields, but they have just not been able to. So, that’s just not fair to everyone. Just remember, it’s the city’s goal to be fair to everyone in this process.”

No action was taken on the matter during the city council meeting.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.