Encourage commissioners to make rec a priority

Published 11:10 pm Friday, September 10, 2010

In recent weeks, we have seen meetings between members of the Covington County Commission, leaders from the Cities of Andalusia, Opp and Florala, and recreation leaders from across Covington County. These meetings and discussions are being held in an attempt to provide recreational opportunities for all the youth of our county.

And, we saw the commission take a position (in a split vote) against entering an agreement with the City of Andalusia that –when considered with the recreational accommodations provided by Opp and Florala/Paxton – would’ve accomplished this. While there was no debate on the issue, each commissioner set out their position and why they took that position. Funding was mentioned as a primary concern – as it should be.

However, the amount involved is only about 1/3 of 1 percent of the commission’s budget. In a recent year, one commissioner overspent his “Rocks and Materials” line-item by more than the annual commitment being proposed for recreation. In the following year, another commissioner operated with two more employees than his budget provided for – again overspending in that year by more than the recreation proposal calls for.

My point is – the commission can find a way to fund their priorities, and I believe that this proposal being considered should be a priority. The last year before the county leagues were created, approximately 250 “county” kids participated in the Andalusia Youth Sports programs. Within two or three years of being formed, over 600 “county” kids participated in youth sports. In 2002, 12 county girls played softball. That number now exceeds 200!

I support the commission’s efforts to find a way to provide for these kids. The facts prove that continuing to offer the county leagues best serve our children. And, the most cost effective way to get the job done is a joint effort with the City of Andalusia.

I hope you will join me in encouraging the commission to work with the City of Andalusia on the Johnson Park proposal. And, I invite you to join me in expressing our appreciation to the City of Opp and Florala for providing for the county kids within their youth sports programs. All of us benefit when we work together to reduce duplication, and stretch the taxpayers’ dollars.

Greg White is the former chairman of the Covington County Commission.