Recreation board must take action

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 25, 2010

Recently, I have been to several Dixie Youth Baseball Tournament games played at Duncan Park. At each tournament game, hundreds of Natchez residents and out-of-town guests were at the parks. Also, on the other side of town, the T.M. Jennings League hosted a tournament involving teams from Laurel, Hattiesburg and Meridian. The tournament brought in many, many out-of-town guests who spent money in Natchez, including overnight lodging.

In the past, the Dixie Youth League, the T.M. Jennings League, the Natchez Girls Softball League and the Natchez Soccer League have been receiving grants from the Adams County Recreation Board. This year, the leagues have been told they will not be receiving the same amount of money and that the amounts will be substantially reduced. The money is being spent to update parks and other facilities.

If you were to add up all the leagues’ participants, it would be in the thousands. Each of these leagues are run by volunteers. No one is paid for doing the necessary jobs. Now that equipment, field maintenance, uniforms, insurance and utilities cost more and more with every year, the recreation board is cutting funding.

I wonder how much it would cost if the recreation board had to hire workers to do the work the volunteers perform for no pay! Or maybe the recreation board would just forget the revenue these leagues bring to town and do without the programs! Much recreation and leadership is provided by these programs.

By the way, another summer has come and gone and to my knowledge, not a shovel full of dirt has been turned over for the new recreational facilities. How do we stand? Has the land been secured?

My idea is to take action now — build something. Find a smaller piece of property and build some soccer fields or adult softball fields and the 13 and 14-year-olds baseball fields. Then upgrade the girls softball fields, the youth fields at Duncan Park and the T.M. Jennings League fields.

The youth of this area need the grants from the recreation board and need safe and updated recreational facilities. In return, the youth receive leadership, discipline, skills and team recreation.

Natchez benefits from the revenue brought in by tournaments. It is time to take action. If we build, more will come.

Clarence A. Bowlin Jr. is a Natchez resident and former Dixie Youth league president.