Parks chair speaks candidly on new league

Staff Writer

baseball gloveMuch has been speculated regarding the City of San Benito’s youth baseball and softball program that is now operating as the San Benito National Bronco League.

In response to comments made in the Feb. 10 edition of the San Benito News by Harlingen National Bronco League Board President Jerry Hernandez, a native of San Benito who’s tasked with operating the SBNBL, Zeke Luna, Chairman of the City of San Benito Parks and Recreation Board, explained the process that led to recent events.

In an article entitled, “SB youth league under new direction,” Hernandez said his organization was trying “to fix the league” as a “favor” to the community.

Luna has stated that the San Benito Youth Baseball-Softball Organization – the name which the city-run league operated last year – is not broken to warrant fixing. In a detailed list of events which led to the HNBL’s acquisition of the San Benito league, Luna stated, “Facing the same scenario as last year, the present board simply could not undertake another season of operating the league. In the interim, two new board members were named to the board. Regrettably, both are employed full-time and could not assist in the day-to-day operations of the league.”

According to Luna, Hernandez came recommended by a member of the Parks and Recreation Board. Following a December 2012 meeting with Hernandez, the Parks and Recreation Board then recommended him to director Mike Jaramillo, “who, in turn, recommended Mr. Hernandez to the city manager,” Luna said.

“Curious minds want to know why Harlingen’s bronco league will be operating San Benito’s youth baseball/softball program this year,” said Luna. “Flashback to October of 2010 … the San Benito Parks and Recreation Director at that time (Alisha Milligan) was actively soliciting proposals for the operation of the San Benito Youth Baseball/Softball program for 2011.”

Luna said there were five proposals received, but some were immediately deterred by the $1,500 fee (per month) to rent the ballpark (Stookey Park). The remaining proposals were deemed “unresponsive” or “unacceptable,” Luna further remarked.

“In January, 2011, facing a deadline to begin operations in the same month, the Parks and Recreation Board presented its findings to the City Commission,” Luna said. “The City Commission recommended that the Board operate the league for 2011, and the Board accepted the recommendation, which was approved by the Commission on the same date.”

The Parks and Recreation Board, which was made up of five members at the time, proceeded to dwindle in numbers as some resigned citing personal reasons while others, according to Luna, were unable to meet the demands required by the league.

Adding to the problems already facing the league, nearly all of the sprinkler valves in the six fields were inoperable and had to be replaced, costing approximately $900. Of the 180 sprinkler heads, at least 140 had to be replaced or repaired, again at a league cost of another $720 once the season began, Luna said.

“Initially, individuals were hired to mark the fields; however, the individuals began demanding a full eight-hour work day for three or four-hours of work. They were dismissed,” Luna said. “Two-thirds of the way into the season one of the retired individuals found employment and was unable to assist any further, which left the daily tasks to a single board member. The task was simply overwhelming. Volunteers assigned by the local Justice of the Peace’s office were sporadic in attendance, and some simply did not report to work.”

Still, Luna said he remained optimistic of the San Benito National Bronco League, stating that he felt the move was a “positive” one.

Read this story in the Feb. 17 edition of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.

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