Panama City Beach, FL---The Bay County School District Office is opening up an investigation into use of the Arnold baseball diamond by a group called Grand Slam Sports over the last six years.
Newschannel 7 Sports has learned Arnold baseball boosters are concerned the diamond at the Gavlak Sports Complex has been used by Grand Slam for six years, with the money raised supposed to go to the Arnold baseball internal account, which is separate from the overall Arnold booster club.
Boosters tell us they can't find any record of even one dollar coming in from the use of the diamond during the previous 6 summers.
Larry Thompson Jr. runs Grand Slam Sports, which oversees youth baseball and softball events in Bay County and beyond.
Thompson tells us he's used Arnold's diamond for six years, at $125 dollars per day, sometimes 15 days in a summer. All that amounting to thousands of dollars, with that money supposed to go to the Arnold boosters.
So if the boosters didn't get that money, where did it go?
Thompson's told Newschannel 7 he did pay for use of the field, in a couple of instances by check, made out to an Arnold coach, but otherwise was asked to pay in cash.
When we asked Arnold Principal Keith Bland and the district office for comment on all this we received a reply from Sharon Michalik, the Human Resources Director of Bay County Schools.
Her statement directly on the situation is listed below:
"We were just made aware yesterday (Tuesday), via an email, of some concerns regarding payments allegedly made to a former Arnold baseball coach. I have reached out today (Wednesday) to officials with Grand Slam Tournaments requesting documentation of payments made and contractual agreements signed and have also reached out to the Arnold boosters for documentation from their end. I've not yet heard back from either group but I certainly hope to hear soon. I've also attempted to contact Coach ******* but haven't heard back from him yet either."
I did speak with Thompson Wednesday night. He tells us he responded immediately to the District Office's request with all the documentation asked of him.
He went on to tell me he used both the Arnold softball and baseball diamonds this June, 4 days for each field, paying by check, $500 for each. He says he those checks, made out to Arnold Athletics, have already been cashed.
The correct procedure for renting out school, and thus taxpayer property, requires a "Use of Facilities" form. Thompson says this summer was the first time he was ever asked to sign such a form.
Thompson told me he wants to stress he's had a good relationship with Arnold for years, and wants to continue with that relationship. His events could not survive without such relationships.