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March 6, 2002

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Rec department moving on
Recreation staff working to keep facilities up to par
The Banks County Recreation Department has seen its share of adversity in the past six months.
The department lost its director in October amid controversy of financial mismanagement. Since then, the screws have been tightened and the recreation department has been acting without a director.
But things are starting to turn around. The county’s recreation advisory board has become active once again after more than five years of inactivity.
And the board of commissioners have tentative plans Tuesday to name a new director for the recreation department. With the help of the advisory board, the candidate pool has been narrowed to three: Matthew Poole, Kelly Howington and current department athletic coordinator Trey Donaldson.
But since October, the rec. staff has had to pick up the slack of having one less man.
“Everybody has pitched in,” said county building maintenance man Kenny Crumley, who often assists the rec. staff on construction projects. “From the outside, you never would know the director was gone.”
Phillip Cronic agreed.
“Everybody took up the load,” he said. “And it’s been a big load.”
Donaldson said the entire staff, which includes three full-time and one part-time employee, have come together to work through the difficulties of the past several months.
“Everybody has stepped up and taken the weight of the missing person,” he said. “We’ve worked together and tried to be a team.”
The recreation department has undergone a dramatic facelift over the past several years. This summer, the department finished a large project renovating many of the fields at the complex.
The staff added new fencing on the fields and put in new outfield sod and irrigation systems. An old tee-ball field was also filled in and a new tee-ball field and multi-purpose field added in its place.
“We helped the high school track team with the sand jump pit at the track,” Donaldson said. “We also helped level up the shot and discus area.”
The staff has also made big improvements to the large baseball field at the complex, the one the high school baseball team plays on. The field has new sod, a new irrigation system and a warning track. The staff also lowered the fence and filled in the low spots in the field.
All of their work has been for one reason: the kids.
“We’re trying to provide the safest and most pleasant playing environment,” Donaldson said. “When people drive up here, we want them to be like ‘Wow, these are nice facilities.’ We want the kids to be able to play on good quality fields. Recreation is supposed to be fun and if the fields are nice, they’re a lot funnier to play on.”
The renewal of the county’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) last fall has a huge impact for the recreation department.
Part of the revenue from that sales tax is set to finance the construction of a gym at the rec. complex. Though the time frame for the work on the building hasn’t yet been set, the board of commissioners are hoping to get it done as soon as possible.
Besides funding the recreation building, money from the SPLOST that voters approved last fall will also finance a new jail, fire and EMS equipment, water expansion and road and bridge improvements.
The county has already sold bonds to get money for the jail and fire and EMS purchases. Board of commissioners chairman Kenneth Brady said the county will make its first payment on that bond this summer with money from the SPLOST revenue. After that, the commissioners will have several options on financing the recreation building.
Brady said the county could wait four or five years until enough money from the sales tax has been accumulated to finance the construction. But he doesn’t like that idea.
“I’d like to get it done in the next year,” he said.
Instead, Brady said another option would be to borrow money for the building construction on the funds the county expects to collect from the SPLOST. Then the county would pay the loan off with sales tax revenue.
The commissioners haven’t made any decisions on how they will go about funding the recreation building. But Brady expects to get input from the recreation advisory board on the matter.
“That issue came up at our last meeting,” advisory board chairman Sam McDuffie said. “It’s the next thing on our agenda and we expect to take a look at it.”
Whatever way the funds for the building become available, the recreation department is looking forward to it.
“When we get the new facility, we’ll get to offer more programs,” Donaldson said. “The school’s have been real good to us, but we won’t have to borrow their gyms as much. They’ll have more time to use them.”
The recreation department expects to move into offering classes in martial arts, music, dance, crafts, aerobics and a host of non-sport activities. The formation of those programs will be another task of the advisory board.
All said, the recreation department staff seems proud of what they have accomplished over the past few years.
“We’re here for the people in the county,” Donaldson said. “We’re getting the programs and facilities to top playing shape. This is all here for everybody in the county enjoy recreation.”
The county’s recreation complex includes six ballfields, a football field with a track, tennis courts and a horse arena.

Spring Sports Kick Into Full Swing This Week
With arctic-like temperatures recently sweeping through the area, “Spring sports” wouldn’t seem the most appropriate way to categorize athletic competition this week.
Nevertheless, the “warmer” season sports will kick into full swing on the heels of a winter chill with three Tiger teams—baseball, tennis and golf— heading into action, while a fourth, track, will start this coming Wednesday.
The baseball, tennis and golf teams were all scheduled to open their seasons this past Tuesday, but results weren’t available as of press time.
The start of spring sports ended a near three-week hiatus in Tiger athletics since the conclusion of basketball season February 13.
•The varsity baseball team, which was scheduled to play Athens Christian this past Tuesday, is slated for a double header this Saturday against Banks County before taking on Prince Avenue Tuesday.
•The JV baseball squad is set for action today (Wednesday), playing Athens Academy at home at 4:30 p.m. before squaring off with Banks County Friday at home at 4:30 also.
•The tennis teams, which were scheduled to take on Franklin this past Tuesday, will have a home matchup with Tallulah Falls this Tuesday at 4 p.m.
•The golf teams, which had to cancel their contests with Banks County this past Monday due to cold weather, will have a busy slate this week. The boys’ team will match up with Providence at Deer Trail this coming Monday before taking on Banks County at Scales Creek Tuesday.
The girls’ team will take on the Lady Leopards Tueday also.
•The Commerce track team won’t be in action this week, but will take on Cedar Shoals March 13 at home before competing in the Cedar Shoals Invititational the following Saturday.

Jefferson one win away from repeat
Ladies to vie with Wesleyan for state title Friday at noon
Yogi Berra would be proud.
Jefferson’s Lady Dragons and Wesleyan’s Lady Wolves will experience deja vu all over again Friday at noon, when the two teams meet at the Macon Centreplex in the Class A state basketball championship.
The ride for both Region 8-A teams has been similar to last year’s, as have the rosters. Wesleyan (26-4) returns four starters from last year’s runner-up team, while defending champ Jefferson (25-7) returns all five.
Tipoff in Macon is set for noon Friday.
“We’re going to have a tough time against [Wesleyan],” Lady Dragon head coach Kevin Jacobs said Tuesday. “I think it will be a war. It may be the best game anyone will see in Macon this week. They are a good, talented team. They have kids who can score, and they have some that we have a hard time accounting for. They have a lot of incentive, too; all they’ve talked about this year is how much they want to get back at us for last year.”
Jacobs said the team took Tuesday off to rest after a heavy slate of three tournament games last week and the extensive travel to Rome and Macon. He also said he’d introduced some new offensive sets tailored to what he’s seen from Wesleyan thus far, in an effort to boost the Lady Dragon offense that has struggled against Wesleyan.
“In order to be successful, we’ve got to hold them in the 50’s. We have some things we’re going to try against them; offensively, we just didn’t do a good job against them the last few times. We’ve just been standing around, not moving and not setting screens. If we stand around again, we’re going to have problems.”
Jefferson and Wesleyan have stood far above the rest of the Class A crowd for much of the season, but more so in the state tournament. The Lady Dragons’ tournament wins have come by an average margin of 23 points, while Wesleyan has pummelled its opposition by at least 24 in each game.
“I think we’re probably the two best teams in Class A,” Jacobs said, “and we’ve proved that. We both played some bigger schools, too; Wesleyan beat Paideia and GAC, and we beat Hart County. Wesleyan may be as good as any team in Class AA, if not most in Class AAA. We’ve both played good teams, and I think it helps us that we’ve seen all kinds of different things - some of the things those teams in the south don’t get to see.”
Kevin Jacobs’ ladies downed Treutlen 58-43 Monday off 19 points from Lee DuBose and 16 from Melinda Floyd. The turning point of the game came in the final minute of the first half. Up by three, the Lady Dragons got a four-point play from DuBose and then forced consecutive turnovers for easy buckets from Staci Childress and Annie Goza to take a 26-15 lead into intermission.
“We got outhustled and outrebounded,” Jacobs recalled. “We had people standing around on offense. Thank goodness for that run at the half, or we may have been in a little trouble.”
Wesleyan defeated top-ranked Taylor County 65-40 Monday.
Third-ranked Social Circle fell to the Lady Dragon tidal wave in Friday’s semifinal round, 63-41. The Lady Redskins got off to a strong start, thanks mostly to strong perimeter shooting, but Jefferson’s press proved too much for Social Circle to handle in the second half.
Goza was strong on the boards, and turned the tone of the game early in the second quarter. With her team down by five, Goza hit one of two free throws, grabbed an offensive rebound for an easy basket, and converted a three-point play to give Jefferson a one-point advantage. The Lady Dragons would never relinquish the lead after that, outscoring the Redskins 15-6 in the quarter and 35-19 in the second half.
DuBose led the way on offense with four three-pointers and 24 points, with Goza’s 14 and Floyd’s 10 rounding out the leading individual scores.
Audrey Johnson may not hear her name over the loudspeaker as much as some of her teammates, but the senior put forth a career effort in last Wednesday’s 62-31 quarterfinal win over Heard County.
Johnson recorded a coveted double-double in the game, scoring 10 points and pulling in 12 rebounds. Floyd had 15 points to lead the team on offense.
“That was great,” Jacobs commented on Johnson’s effort. “It was probably the highlight of her career. She’s worked hard for three years now, and she’s getting a chance to play. It goes along with what I tell the kids, if you hang with it, good things will happen. It was one of those things where you sit there and watch and you’re happy for kids like her. She finally gets the opportunity to play, and she performs like that. She was unreal.”

Rough seventh pushes Buford over Panthers in opener, 7-2
Jackson County played six innings of solid baseball in Tuesday’s season opener against Buford, but a five-run seventh inning resulted in a 7-2 home loss. The game had originally been scheduled for Monday, but was postponed due to cold weather.
“We’re in the game all night,” head coach Van Samples said of Tuesday’s game, “and we should be able to win it in the last inning, but we just can’t make the plays.”
The Panthers were to host White County Wednesday before a long road trip to meet Carrollton and LaGrange Saturday in Carrollton. Jackson County and Buford will square off again next Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., at Buford.
Buford used a bloop single and two infield hits to take advantage of two Jackson County errors and three walks in the seventh inning to earn the win.
Senior Trey McConnell went the distance on the mound for Jackson County, recording five strikeouts.
First-baseman Preston Shiflet drove in and scored the Panthers’ first run of the 2002 season with a two-out solo home run in the fourth that gave Jackson County a 1-0 lead. An inning later, Brad Pittman singled with two out, lee Reece walked and McConnell singled to make it a 2-0 game.
Buford tied with a two-out, two-run shot in the sixth before taking the game in the seventh.
“Buford is always good,” Samples continued, “and they always believe they’re good, even when they’re not. That’s where we need to get to. We stop things like what happened tonight between our ears,” the coach said, pointing to his head.
Jackson County also got hits from Cody Fortson, Seth Potts and Ray Brown.

Raiders win wild opener over Morgan Co.
Madison County carries last inning 8-7 win into this week’s contests
It’s certainly not the blueprint for success the Raiders would have liked to follow in their season opener, but they’ll take being 1-0 nevertheless.
On an erratic night, Madison County looked confident and collected for five innings Tuesday against Morgan County, but early-season jitters in the final two innings quickly erased a comfortable 6-0 Raider lead. However, sophomore Michael Young salvaged the evening for Madison County, singling home the game-winning score to lift Madison County to a wild, come-from-behind 8-7 victory.
The Raiders now hope the rest of the week will go smoother than their opener.
The team have a busy slate in front of them over the next six days, making up their canceled Monday contest against Cedar Shoals today (Wednesday) before turning around and playing the Jaguars on Saturday afternoon and Rabun Gap later that day.
Madison County will then meet Morgan County again this Tuesday, this time on the road.
Against the Bulldogs, the Raiders coasted through the first five innings of the contest thanks mostly to a stellar opening-day performance from pitcher Dustin Dinsmore.
The senior hurler, coming off a 4-1 campaign in 2001, showed he hadn’t missed a beat from last year, working five innings, surrendering only two infield hits, striking out seven while demonstrating veteran control with no walks.
Offensively, the team warmed up almost immediately, striking for a run in the first inning with a RBI double from Brent Burkhalter and then tacked on three more scores in the second inning with a two-run double from Tony Tittle and an RBI single from Stephen Seagraves.
Two more Raider insurance runs followed in the third.
Dinsmore more helped out his own cause with an RBI triple while Young came home later on a wild pitch to pad the lead at six.
The Raider bats went cold over the next two innings, but it didn’t matter as Dinsmore continued to fool Bulldog hitters in the fourth and fifth, facing only six batters and allowing only an infield hit.
But the complexion of the contest changed drastically after Dinsmore departed.
Two quick Raider defensive miscues in the sixth inning put two runners on for Morgan County’s Davis Mattox who drilled a three-run home run off freshman Ben Jeffers to cut the lead in half at 6-3.
Jeffers struggled with his control in the top of the seventh, retiring only one batter and walking two before he was lifted in favor of senior Stephen Seagraves.
Seagraves was then greeted by a two-run double to left field by Blake Whitaker, cutting the Raider lead to 6-5.
Mattox struck again two batters later with an RBI double to knot the contest at six.
Morgan Co. then took their first lead of the night, loading the bases and bringing home a run after getting hit by a pitch.
With their backs against the wall, Madison County got some breaks in the final inning which aided them in snatching away the win.
Travis Calloway led off the inning with a single, but advanced to third a batter later as Morgan County botched a defensive play at first on a Chris Burroughs bunt.
Calloway then tied the game at seven as he came home on a passed ball while Burroughs moved to third on the miscue.
Then Michael Young, who only batted five times all of last year, finished Morgan County off with a single through the right side of the infield to score Burroughs.

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