By Bryce Abshier – Contact Bryce@TheVOSM.net
Heated arguments and literal fistfights at the Belleview Sports Complex were a topic of discussion at a recent Belleview City Commission meeting. Reportedly, some parents are concerned about foul language, including racial slurs, getting thrown around at Pop Warner youth football games, as well as at practices, by adults.
Belleview City Commissioner Ray Dwyer brought this unfortunate news to the commission. “I have received a couple calls in reference to… There are a lot of parents calling concerned about issues with the Pop Warner program going on back there,” explained Commissioner Dwyer. “They said coaches are fighting with one another, racial things being thrown back and forth, and some serious, they’re afraid something is going to pop off,” Dwyer said.
“Does the county actually control the Pop Warner sports?,” Dwyer asked his fellow commissioners.
City of Belleview Mayor Christine Dobkowski then offered her insight. “The county controls all of the leagues. But also, obviously, if there are law enforcement issues, it is within the city limits,” Dobkowski explained.
Belleview Police Chief Terry Holland said that there have been “a lot” of problems at the Belleview Sports Complex. “One of the problems is the parents fighting. Literally out on the field, fisticuff fighting,” Holland explained. “It’s just getting out of hand out there.”
Sadly, most of these disturbances aren’t caused by visiting teams. “I hate to say it, but the majority of the problems are not the incoming teams, it is our Belleview teams,” Chief Holland said.
Commissioner Dwyer was told that the regular practices are also causing disturbances. “The people that call me say it is even during the practices during the week. The coaches calling the kids names, really concerning,” explained Dwyer. “The language is out of hand,” replied Holland.
In other items of business discussed by the Belleview City Commission:
Baker Acts Decline
A notable drop in Baker Acts in Belleview left some on the commission asking questions. A Baker Act, also called the Florida Mental Health Act, “focuses on crisis services for individuals with mental illness” according to the Florida Department of Children and Families.
A high volume of Baker Acts and drug overdoses inside of Belleview city limits had been a point of concern at earlier City Commission meetings, occurring at a frequency of about once every other day.
A recent notable decline left some commissioners to speculate as to the cause.
“The drop in Baker Acts, is that because the Fish Games have left?,” asked Commissioner Mike Goldman. “It was just remarkable,” he said.
Goldman was referring to recent city legislation that forced the closure of Belleview’s eight internet cafes. Belleview was the last city in Marion County to allow these businesses to operate, until they were ousted in September by the passing of a city ordinance that prohibited the businesses.
“It appears that may be having a little effect,” replied Belleview Police Chief Terry Holland. “If you’re out at night, there is a lot less movement out at night, by walkers and bicyclists,” he stated.
Holland said a little more time is needed to analyze the full effect of the internet cafe closures. “If you notice, the weekly reports I send you, they’ve gotten smaller,” the Chief told commissioners, referring to weekly incident reports produced by Belleview Police.
It could be reasoned that the closure of the internet cafes would potentially contribute to fewer Baker Acts, as well as general crime, in Belleview. The Florida Gaming Control Commission warns that internet cafes are “often associated with organized crime, money laundering, fraud, drugs, prostitution, and pose a general risk to the players and communities in which they exist.” If this is true, Belleview is no longer a magnet for all of that undesirable behavior.
Code Enforcement Works Fridays
City of Belleview Code Enforcement has adjusted its schedule to now be available Monday through Friday. Previously, there were no code enforcement officials available on Fridays, as Belleview city offices observe a 4-day work schedule.