Responding to Scorched Earth

After reading the article, Scorched Earth, that was published on August 4, 2021, I decided that I’ve set around long enough.  All spring and summer I’ve listened to excuses and heard all the finger pointing about what has happened and what continues to happen at the Mountain View Municipal Golf Course and frankly, I've heard enough. Now I’m going to tell everyone what’s really the happened with the Mountain View Golf course and why.
Before I start, I want to say that I can prove everything I’m about to disclose in this letter with witnesses and the people involved to all this fiasco.
It all started when Mr. Donnie Pruett, current Mountain View Mayor, was elected has west ward alderman to the City Council.  At that time, Louis Pruett was the golf course superintendent.  From the very start Donnie had already made up his mind that he didn’t like the way that Louis and his crew were doing things and decided he was going to change it.  According to Louis, Donnie constantly went to the previous City Administrator, Mike Wake, with complaints about Louis and according to Louis, was constantly harassing him about the golf course. Then there was a golf course committee implemented that Donnie was involved in organizing with his girlfriend spearheading. The committee, along with the strong involvement of Donnie and his girlfriend, would make recommendations to the City Council with constant complaints and changes to the golf course, that most of the time were unreasonable. This continued until finally Louis had enough and he and his whole crew quit. After 25 years of service to the city and the Mountain View Municipal Golf course, Louis just quit.  He didn’t feel like Donnie should be telling him how to do his job and the way he went about it.
It was on Friday, July 19, 2019, around 1:00pm that I received a call from one of the employees in the pro shop.  She told me that Louis and the rest of the maintenance team had quit and there was no one taking care of the greens.  It was a hot day so I told her I would come and do the best I could. Since I had previously ran the course when it was just nine holes, I had enough knowledge to know that the greens had to be kept cool to keep them from burning up.  The greens had already started burning in spots by the time I got there. 
I called Bob McBride, a former superintendent and greens keeper at the course, to come show me how the water system worked.  Bob showed me enough to get me started and I took it from there.  The course had a tournament scheduled for the following Saturday so I asked a couple of members to help me mow and we worked all week to get the course ready. The tournament was a success.  I then recruited the help of my grandson to help work the course for a couple of weeks until they hired a couple of employees. Several weeks later the city hired Dennis Voyles. 
Dennis had applied for a job in the city water department. He’s a licensed water and wastewater operator but the city sent him to the golf course.  It didn’t take long for me to see that Dennis had the skills needed to run the course.  He had all the knowledge and experience to become a good superintendent.  Dennis read everything he could find on bentgrass and was learning fast.  He worked all summer and proved that he was willing to learn and had the skills that was needed to become superintendent, he was hired that fall.
The next spring Donnie Pruett was elected to be mayor and he immediately started telling Dennis how he wanted things to be done.  Always before the people that worked on the golf course put in a lot overtime during the spring, summer and fall.  This overtime would be used as comp-time to cover the winter months when weather was bad and the course was closed.  Donnie told Dennis he wanted all comp-time used up before the fiscal year.  We went through the season with Donnie pushing his ideas on Dennis the whole time.  Dennis worked hard to get a defunct irrigation system operating even though we were having to use a backup pump from the wastewater plant.  They finally bought a new pump which Dennis went to install only to find out that it was the wrong pump and wouldn’t work.  Dennis had rewired most of the pedestals by then, found and dug out at least 90 percent of all the tee and fairway waterers that hadn't been used for a while because there was no way to turn them on.  We operated with the backup pump until it went down in early fall and we had to drain the waste water holding tank to fix it.  In the meantime, we watered with a water truck we borrowed from the fire department.  Dennis done a temporary fix on the pump and told Donnie it needed a new part, that it wouldn’t last long.
About November, Dennis started taking his comp-time so he could get it all used before the next fiscal year and that only left one employee at the course so things started to deteriorate fast.  Donnie called Dennis in and told him he what he wanted him to do and told him he needed to work.  Dennis told Donnie that he was using comp-time, which he insisted he use and that he didn’t agree with his ideas.  Donnie told him that’s the way it was going to be done.  At this point, Dennis told him, and these are his exact words, “If you’re going to make all the decisions, then you don’t need me” and Dennis said he quit.
The comment was made on Facebook that Tyler, the Greenspro representative, said the greens were bad because they had pythium blight.  The next day after I read that on Facebook, I saw Tyler, who I know pretty well, and asked him what was wrong with the greens in Mountain View. He said, they were burning up from lack of water.  It seems even though Dennis told them to send the new pump back and have it reversed and even though he told them what part was needed to fix the backup pump before he left, no one bothered to get it ready before the season started so they had no water for quite some time.  
The comment was also made that the new crew had to dig out 120 water sprinklers including some around the greens that were buried.  I can tell you for a fact, that Dennis had all the sprinklers around the greens as well as at least 90 percent of those in the fairways and tees found and working before he quit.  
The newspaper article states that there was $80,000 worth of chemicals that hadn’t been used in previous years stored in the maintenance building. Dennis used chemicals exactly as directed in the plan that tells when, where and how much to use as does all the other courses in the country.  This plan is written for them as a guide by the Greenspro company.  When you order your chemicals that you will need for the next season in the fall, you get a 20 percent discount.  The chemicals that were there are the chemicals that had been ordered for the next season, to save money.
The mayor also commented in the article that the man he hired was the only applicant with experience that he had received.  That is also a false statement.  When Dennis quit, I immediately turned in an application.  I had 6 and half years of experience on that golf course.  When I gave him my application, I made it clear that I didn’t want the job permanently but wanted to work as a contract laborer so there wasn’t any benefits involved.  I suggested that he could send anyone interested in the job out to work with me to find out what they knew and when we found the right person with the needed skills and knowledge, we would turn it over to them.  Sounded reasonable to me but the mayor wanted someone he could control and do exactly what he told them instead of someone to do the job.
That, my friends, is the problem with the golf course today. The mayor wouldn’t listen to anyone that had any knowledge because he knew it all.  Put the blame where it belongs, squarely on Mayor Donnie Pruett shoulders.
Randy Reese, Mountain View
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