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Discs, ditches and votes

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Disc golfers will have a new place to hone their skills thanks to Durant Trails and Open Space and the Durant City Council.

At its regular meeting Tuesday night, the council appointed an ad hoc committee to study the city’s infrastructure and make recommendations on how to fund improvements. The council also set the date for municipal elections and approved a plan for a disc golf course at Lake Durant.

City Manager Tim Rundel, who proposed the Durant Streets and Infrastructure Task Force, said the group will hold public meetings and issue a report by June 30. The task force will disband once the report is complete. Rundel said the task force will be expected to take a comprehensive look at the city’s infrastructure.

“The goal is to finish by the end of June and provide a document with priorities and funding options,” he said.

The task force members are Charles Bachmann, nominated by Councilmember Chad Hitchcock; James Dalton, nominated by Mayor Jerry Tomlinson; Kevin Keener, nominated by councilmember Oden Grube; Michael Simulescu, nominated by councilman Destry Hawthorne; and Mike Davis, nominated by Councilman Mike Dills.

Hitchcock nominated Tomlinson and Grube to represent the council on the task force. In nominating them he referenced the upcoming election.

“Since you two are the only ones that are for sure going to be here,” he said.

The council passed a resolution to hold an election in April.

At stake will be the Ward 3, Ward 4 and At-Large seats on the council. The seats are currently held by councilmen Mike Dills in Ward 3, Destry Hawthorne in Ward 4 and Chad Hitchcock, At-Large.

The council set the non-partisan general election for Tuesday, April 2, 2019. Candidate filing will open at 8 a.m., Monday Feb. 4 and close at 5 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6. Prospective candidates can get information from the Bryan County Election Board, 402 W. Evergreen St. in Durant, (580)924-2785.

Rundel said prospective candidates also need to stop by the city’s administrative office for an information packet.

Tuesday night, Hawthorne said he would not run for re-election. Hawthorne said he was honored to serve Ward 4 and would not rule out public service at some time in the future. However, he said his family has grown and he needed to spend more time at home.

“It’s been a pleasure and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to get done,” Hawthorne said. “I would encourage anyone who’s interested to consider running.”

Dills and Hitchcock could not be reached for comment.

The council also agreed to work with Durant Trails and Open Space on an 18-hole disc golf course at Lake Durant. Marty Cook, Durant Public Works Director, said the city has had a 9-hole course at Carl Albert and it has proven to be very popular. Mike Delloro, DTSO president, said his group would finance the project if the city agreed to help install and maintain the course.

In disc golf, players throw flying discs into baskets suspended on poles anchored in the ground. Just as in regular golf, the object is to complete the course with as few throws as possible.

Cook told the council that maintenance would require about the same resources currently expended at the lake. Maintaining the course would entail regular mowing and tree trimming, though not as much as a regular golf course.

“We’re going to keep the areas clean enough for families to travel safely,” Cook said.

Cook said the larger course could increase the traffic at Lake Durant. Cook said that as he looked into the sport, he was surprised by what he found.

“Apparently disc golf is a big thing,” he said.

Delloro agreed. He said that thousands of people of all ages participate in the sport which even has its own professional league. He envisions what he called a “world championship” level course at the lake. Delloro said that such a facility could be used to attract professional tournaments to the area. He said his club had already hosted around 50 events at the 9-hole course at Carl Albert Park.

“Carl Albert is a great course, but it’s small,” Delloro said. “We have quickly outgrown it.”

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