APRIL FOOLS - In a special called meeting Saturday, March 30th, Hattiesburg Mayor Toby Barker proposed, and the Hattiesburg City Council approved in a 3 -2 vote, the relocation of Petal's dilapidated skating rink owned by Forrest County Supervisor Burkett Ross.
The relocation would be contingent on Hattiesburg voters ultimately approving a 1% increase in the restaurant and lodging tax. The relocation and renovation project would cost approximately $3.2 million to relocate and renovate. Currently the added restaurant and lodging tax is now at 2% on top of the 7% sales tax.
Burkett Ross's family's rink, once a fixture of fun, has now become a fixture of folly.
According to Barker, Convention Center Director, Rick Taylor came up with the idea of a Hattiesburg roller derby team. Barker said,
I never knew Rick had such a passion for roller skating. If we get this tax passed, Hattiesburg will have its first roller derby team named 'Ricks Rollers'."
Mary Dryden, Council woman for Ward 4 voted for the plan. According to Dryden,
I believe Rick will do a fine job as the head of our roller derby team. Once concern I do have is the amount of traffic roller derby events will generate on Hardy Street. So, I plan to push for replacing all traffic lights from Highway 49 to the Zoo with round-a-bouts.
Council President Carter Carroll said of the project,
It sounds like a great idea, but so did spending $140 million on a wastewater treatment system we didn't need. So we shall see.
When asked what he thought about the rink being moved out of his community, Petal Mayor Hal Marx said,
"Don't get me started on that abomination. I actually questioned my faith when that thing survived the tornado."
Convention Center Director Rick Taylor told Hattiesburg Patriot News Media,
I'm just so blessed to have access to all of this taxpayer money, and I want tax payers to know, I plan to treat it like it is my own.