If all goes as planned, the Jasper Lions Club Rodeo Arena on the north side of town will no longer be the venue for rodeos and other events, but instead a yard used the storage of trucks and other equipment used in cleaning up rubble and debris following storms and other disasters.
The Executive Director of the Jasper Economic Development Corporation Eddie Hopkins told members of the group’s board on Friday that a deal had been struck and Kelly and Company, a disaster relief firm from Missouri would soon convert the facility into a local center for their operations here in the Gulf Coast Area.
According to Hopkins, Kelly and Company has already signed the paperwork and should take possession of the roughly 11-acre piece of property at the corner of Fletcher and Calvert Streets in the next few days.
Hopkins said the company plans to remove the grandstands and other parts of the arena, but will allow the covering and top to stand with apparent plans of storing trucks, trailers and other equipment there. He said the firm, which is located in Seymore, Missouri, also plans to install a large fence around the arena and to install and command center and a facility to be used for refilling propane tanks.
To assist Kelly and Company with their plans and to encourage them into bringing part of their operation to Jasper, the board of JEDCO voted on Friday to provide install the new lighting and electricity in the arena, build a command center and also construct a propane tank filling facility at a cost not to exceed $200,000. The motion to do so was made by Charles Warren and was seconded by Randy Sayers with all members present voting for the measure.
Cost of the property has not been made public but Hopkins said the present owner of the rodeo grounds was Jessie Murillo Ventures of Dallas.
Hopkins told board members that the assistance by JEDCO and the conversion of the facility would result in a total of 3 jobs to start off with. However, Hopson said that the company would result in many temporary jobs when emergencies or disasters occur.
The Jasper Lions Club owned and operated the facility for many years. However, in 2017 the group announced that after 71 years the decision had been made to cancel the event due to a lack of funds.
Since that time, local businessman Marvin McDonald and others had used the arena for rodeos and other various events.
In addition to cleaning up after storms, Kelly and Company also manufactures portable trailers and other units used for housing and shelter for use when disasters occur and Hopson said there was a possibility that the firm might end up fabricating structures and equipment here.