Area Sports...

JUNE 9, 2004

Basketball In June
CHS Hoops Teams Addressing Winter Needs Now
Rex Gregg says he needs to find two starters. Don Watkins has even larger personnel question marks looming after wholesale changes over last year.
But now’s the best time to go hunting for those answers while everyone is around, they both say.
Both the Commerce boys’ and girls’ basketball teams have been holding scrimmages against area schools at their gym this week as part of their summer work outs.
Both coaches know that the quality offseason practice time is limited with their athletes playing other sports and say their teams can’t afford to let it go to waste.
“It’s really important that we get something out of it right now,” Tiger head coach Gregg said of his team.
Many on the boys’ team will start summer football workouts next month while several of the girls will soon be gearing up for the transition to fast-pitch softball when practice starts in July.
The time is especially important to Watkins.
His team lost five senior starters from last year’s ball club and will have to count on youth stepping up next year.
While he feels the team will have strong post players, it will have to have someone to get them the ball since the team lost five of its ball-handlers.
“We lost five guards,” Watkins said. “It’s crucial that we find someone that can handle the ball.”
Watkins’ team — which has 32 players participating between the varsity, JV and

Construction under way of recreation center, tennis courts
Banks County Recreation Department planning to add several new programs once facilities open
Two new gymnasiums and four tennis courts are currently under construction at the Banks County Recreation Department complex, located on Thompson Street.
A 23,000-square-foot recreation center that includes two gymnasiums, an assembly room, recreation offices, large storage areas and several classrooms and is fully air-conditioned is currently being built. The center is scheduled to open in September, according to recreation department director Trey Donaldson. The facility was designed by Wright Mitchell and Associates, Inc. and cost $1.499 million to construct, which was allocated through special purpose local option sales tax. A Granwood floor was used for the gym floors to allow for multiple purposes. The complex includes 112 parking spaces and lights in the parking area for safety.
The front doors open into a reception/lobby area, double gym doors are located on either side of the lobby opening up into large gymnasiums with 84-foot floors. Both gym floors have lines for basketball and volleyball. Donaldson said one will be outfitted in blue, the other in red. The colors will be used for the top of the bleachers and the padding on the walls behind the baskets.
Six basketball goals, wired to retract with the push of a button, will be spaced around the floor. Bleachers that seat up to 250 people will line one wall in each gym. Two team rooms are located in the rear of the building that can be utilized when hosting tournaments. A large classroom, capable of holding 50 students, is also in the rear of the building.
Donaldson said the new facility will allow the recreation department to hold more programs.
“We’ll be able to offer more opportunities, not just for kids, but for adults and seniors as well,” Donaldson said. “Our goal initially is to offer four to six programs at a time, along with the sporting programs, and then to start offering 10 programs at a time.”
Currently, the parks and recreation department offers flag football, cheerleading, soccer, baseball, softball and basketball. Donaldson said potential programs are Yoga, aerobics, pottery, art, ceramics, line dancing, senior fitness, weight management and auto mechanics.
“We’ll try anything,” he said. “If the classes don’t make, we’ll try something else.”
He also mentioned “Toddler Tuesdays,” a summer all sports program for toddlers. The recreation department plans to start the program in July and run through August.
Anyone interested in the summer program, or anyone with ideas for new programs should contact the recreation department at (706) 677-4407.
Four new tennis courts are currently under construction at the recreation department complex. The courts should open by the first of July, according to Donaldson.

Committee pushing for new recreation complex in Jefferson
Supporters of a new proposed Jefferson recreation complex off Old Pendergrass Rd. have begun organizing support for a July 20 vote on a bond referendum to pay for the $5.25 million project.
City officials and recreation department committee members joined other citizens June 2 at a meeting at the Jefferson clubhouse. The group used the gathering to form a campaign committee headed up Gary Porter that will begin the process of informing citizens and, it hopes, influencing them to vote for the referendum later this summer.
Although no final figures are available yet, the city hopes to pay for 50 to 75 percent of the project through impact fees (see seperate story on page 1A). But, city officials, including mayor Jim Joiner, have made clear that in a worst-case scenario, if the referendum passes and impact fees are not an option, the obligation to repay the debt will rest mainly on the city’s tax payers.
“The people need to know that if there are no impact fees — and that is not very likely to happen — the citizens of Jefferson will be responsible for this,” Joiner said.
As an example of what the cost might be on the average tax payer, Joiner explained that the owner of a $200,000 home, with a half mill increase in taxes, would owe an additional $40 in taxes to pay for the project. But, that figure could be higher or lower depending on the effect of impact fees.
With a July 20 vote fast approaching, the committee’s task over the coming weeks will be to convince citizens that the complex is a priority worth the price tag.
Some at the initial meeting expressed concerns about what the city would do if the vote fails. Should that occur, the matter could not be voted on again by the public for another three years, something most city officials agree would stretch an already thin recreation department even further.
On average over the last three years, the recreation department has seen a roughly 10 percent growth rate each year, according to Jefferson recreation committee officials, and this year alone the department has 460 little league participants dividing up time on four fields.
If the referendum is approved, it would cover phase one of the project and would allow for a basketball gymnasium, football field, two full-size baseball fields, two softball fields, a multi-purpose field and parking to be built. An aquatic center, tennis courts, playground, walking trails and more baseball and softball fields could potentially be added later on the 99-acre tract off Old Pendergrass Rd.
According to Jefferson city officials, provided the weather cooperated, phase one could be completed in as little as eight months.
Most needed, according to recreation department officials, is the gymnasium and additional baseball/softball fields. Also, the multi-purpose fields could be used for soccer, a program the recreation department has had a large number of inquiries about of late.
Currently, the committee will have to campaign for the complex with some tax-payer cost questions still up in the air because of the effect future impact fees might have. But, Joiner offered some assurance that the cost issue would be clearer in the weeks to come.
“(The impact fees) should be finalized in plenty of time to let the public know (before July 20),” he explained, while adding that the intention of the city is to have a “large part” of the project paid for using development impact fees. But, he also stated several times the importance of letting people understand that the bond would be a “general obligation bond.”
“It’s our obligation to inform the public that this is a general obligation bond, and the citizens of Jefferson will have to pay it,” Joiner said.
Because of state ethics laws, city officials cannot “campaign” for the referendum, Jefferson city manager David Clabo said. Thus, the committee of citizens not affiliated with the city in an official capacity was formed.

Local recreation Little Leagues wraping up play
Local Little League tournaments are bringing an end to seasons in Jackson County this week.
Saturday, action at the Jefferson Parks and Recreation Department wrapped up with tournament championship games taking place from Thursday through Saturday.
In the 7-8 year-old division, the Orioles were crowned champions after running through their tournament unscathed. The squad knocked off the Tigers 7-6 in a tight Thursday night game, then followed that outing up with an impressive showing in the championship game, defeating the Angels 6-1.
The Angels advanced to the finals after dismantling the previously unbeaten White Sox 8-4 on Thursday night.
In 9-10 year-old action at Jefferson, the Phillies were crowned tournament champions after they knocked off the Marlins 8-4 on Friday in the championship.
The Marlins won a semifinal game Thursday over the Braves 4-3 and the Phillies triumphed over the Expos 9-8 that same night, leading to the finals meeting the next evening.
Finally, in the 11-12 year-old division the Padres were the tournament champions thanks to a 7-0 rout of the Rockies on Thursday. The Rockies advanced to the title game after beating the Giants 7-1 on June 1.
At the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department, some tournament championship games set for Tuesday were forced to be rescheduled due to incliment weather, however play will be wrapping up this week.
Scores from Monday's title games could not be obtained from JCPRD after repeated attempts to do so. See next week's paper for more county tournament coverage.

Westbrook and Indians coming to Atlanta
June 18-20
Jake Westbrook will have a homecoming of sorts a week and a half from now when the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves meet in interleague play June 18-20 at Turner Field.
If the starting rotation works out right in the three-game series, the ex-Raider, who was scheduled to start tonight against the Marlins, might get the chance to pitch in his home state for the first time in his five-year major league career.
The opportunity comes in a year that Westbrook, who played for Madison County from 1994-1997, could be starting to come into his own, earning a spot in the starting rotation with a 4-2 record with a 3.32 ERA in 10 appearances this year — seven of which have been starts.
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal.

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