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Welch enjoys raising children after retirement

VIDALIA — Lonnie Welch has both a negative and positive description of retirement.

“It’s not good, but it might be a little better than working,” Welch said.

Welch has lived on Elm Street for 18 years since retiring from farming in Monterey. Even if he’s no longer in the workforce, there’s no shortage of work to be done in his life — especially when it comes to caring for family.

The Dart landed at Welch’s residence at Elm St. in Vidalia, and to get an idea of whose lives Welch is involved with the most, one need look no further than his backyard. A swimming pool, swing set and trampoline await the grandchildren.

“I’ve been raising kids all my life. Sometimes I have problems, but they’re good kids,” Welch said.

“I don’t know what it is that makes me good at it, but I do enjoy it. Sometimes it’s better when everyone lives on their own, though, because it gives each other space.”

And there’s no shortage of residents at Welch’s house. In addition to Welch’s wife Carol, his granddaughters Shelbie Mulvihill, 13, and Haley Peek and her daughter Lane Peek, 5, all live in the family house.

“It’s fun living in Vidalia. I moved here from Jackson, and I enjoy it. I like the trampoline and the pool,” Mulvihill said.

“I just got out of school at Vidalia Junior High, and I made As and Bs (this semester). Now that it’s summer, I’m going to hang out with my friend and swim.”

When June rolls around, the family will load up and head to Bull Shoals Lake in Arkansas for their annual family reunion.

“We always go in the latter part of the month, and we have anywhere from 30 to 40 family members come. When everyone shows up, we usually all just scatter afterwards and decide what we want to do,” Welch said.

For now though, activities for the young members of the Welch household will remain in the confines of Vidalia. And the closeness that she feels with her Vidalia family is why she came down from Jackson in the first place, Mulvihill said.

“I just wanted to come down here and get close to everyone. I always have someone here if I need anything,” Mulvihill said.

“I like living in a small town because everything’s close together, but sometimes it’s better in a bigger city because there’s more to do.”

And living with her 5-year-old niece is an added bonus, she said.

“We’re like sisters. We’re always together, and sometimes I give her advice. We jump on the trampoline at least twice a day and do dances on it. She tries to act like a big girl,” Mulvihill said.

Welch said he has an advantage when it comes to raising children because he lives in a great neighborhood.

“It’s a really good neighborhood.” he said.

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