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Bass Classic honors Delta Bank president

VIDALIA — Delta Bank employees know what their boss likes, and they’ve used his hobby to make money for a good cause.

The second annual Delta Bank Bass Classic in honor of Cliff Merritt is set for April 24.

“We didn’t want to call it the ‘Cliff Merritt’ anything, but we wanted to do something that he has fun participating in,” bank employee Ouida Pecanty said. “We have all these lakes here, and Cliff has a lot of friends who fish.

“Our bank was very pleased with the community’s participation in the 2009 Delta Bank Bass Classic. We hope to break last year’s record (of 36 boats) and exceed the full field of 50 boats.”

Participants will fish on either Lake Concordia or Lake St. John, and all proceeds from the tournament go to Relay for Life.

Merritt is currently battling cancer.

Fishing hours begin at 6 a.m. and end at 3 p.m., when fishers will gather for the weigh-in at the Home Hardware parking lot in Vidalia.

The tournament allows for a two-person team, or an individual fisher in one boat. The grand prize for the heaviest batch caught is $2,000, and the prize for catching the biggest individual bass is $500. The entry fee is $150 per boat, and second-to fifth-place prizes will be based on the number of entries received.

In addition, the tournament has a corporate pot, to be awarded to a business team.

Corporate teams will be charged $100 per boat, and first place finishers in the corporate competition will receive 60 percent of the pot, while the second place team will receive 40 percent.

“We’ll also have a drawing contest, where the winner will win two Powell Specialty Rods,” Pecanty said. “All the participants will have their names in the hat, and the winner just needs to be present at the weigh-in. We’ll also be selling different items at the weigh-in.”

Pecanty stressed that, once the fish are weighed, they will be returned to their habitat.

“All the fish are catch-and-release. That’s a big thing for the fishermen around here, making sure they get back to the lake alive.”

Pecanty said the community’s participation in last year’s event was a major reason it was so successful, and expects that same level of participation this year.

“It’s a real community effort,” she said. “Cliff is very humbled by the community participation and is always pleased to see how many supporters there are of families, victims and caregivers of cancer patients.”

Donating to Relay For Life was a natural choice for Delta Bank, Pecanty said.

“Most all of our fundraising throughout the year goes to them, since they donate to the American Cancer Society,” she said. “There’s not a person who works here who hasn’t been affected by cancer in some way.”

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