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New programs added; Pride of Pike cancelled

At the Feb. 13 meeting, the Parks and Recreation Authority discussed each line item in the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year in an almost two hour meeting. Members voted unanimously to cancel plans for a Pride of Pike celebration in 2012 and start overseeing the operation of Pike’s baseball, soccer and cheerleading programs in 2013 with the assistance of the three associations that now run those programs. *************** ©The Pike County Journal Reporter/pikecountygeorgia.com: This information may not be reprinted, broadcast or distributed electronically in any form or fashion without express consent. For reprint permission, e-mail news@pikecountygeorgia.com. *************** Although county manager Bill Sawyer was unable to attend the meeting, he commended the authority for discussing its proposed budget in detail. Commissioners Carol Bass and Tamra Jarrett attended the meeting. ’It’s important for each authority and department to present a budget and for the county to let the taxpayers look at that budget,’ Sawyer said. ‘We have public hearings so residents can come to those hearings and make their concerns known. I think it’s good to be critiqued by non-governmental citizens. I hope we can become even more transparent.’ Authority members said they believed Christ Chapel was interested in holding an Independence Day event and did not want to hold conflicting programs. ’I think it’s important that the county has this event but if someone else wants to host it, as long as it’s for the community, that’s okay,’ said member Mary Cooper. There was much discussion about bringing baseball, soccer and cheerleading under the authority’s control. Several members said they appreciate how well the associations have run the programs but feel Sawyer and perhaps the county commission would like for Pike to be in control of the programs. ’We discussed all of the pros and cons of running the programs. One of the positive things ‘“ at least from a parent’s standpoint ‘“ is they’ll only have one place to call to get all the information they need,’ said director Kevin Teate. ’My hope would be if we become a county department, the county would supplement the programs and help lower the costs for parents.’ Chairman Jeff Kenerly said the authority would run the programs after current seasons are over. He and Teate said the associations will still be a big part of the programs and if Pike does take over the authority they will at least get a chance to work out any issues with operating the three additional sports programs beforehand. ’This could be a positive thing overall,’ Teate said. ‘We’ll certainly put the children first. I think we can work together with the associations and still have quality programs and a positive impact on the youth in this community.’ Several parents and association members discussed the merger with the authority. Baseball Association president Rick McKenzie said the program has 360 players signed up. He said the association has been very successful and filtered a lot of players into the Pike County High School baseball program. He hoped the current association would have a vote in matters involving the baseball program. ’If the county is going to take over, we want to be able to work with them,’ he said. ‘We have 360 players in baseball alone. You’re going to need some help. We’d like to continue to have a volunteer association to help run the sport.’ Some parents said if Pike takes over sports operations, more players will be lost to travel teams. Cheerleading Association president Shannon Kirby said she wants to make sure fees do not go up and all the money collected is spent on the children involved. ’If the fee goes up we’ll have a lot of parents who’ll have trouble paying,’ she said. ‘Participation has already gone down because of the economy. I’m afraid the program would dwindle and go away.’ The authority approved a preliminary budget to submit to the county. It would eliminate the 12 furlough days per employee the authority put in place when its budget was cut in the previous fiscal year. Pike will review the proposal and make changes as it creates a proposed county budget, with budget hearings set for May 23 at 1 p.m. and May 30 at 6 p.m. ’The board made the decision not to lay off anybody last year. That shortfall was covered through furlough days and what we had in savings but those funds have dwindled away,’ Teate said. The authority also: ’¢ Heard a St. Patrick’s Day themed Daddy Daughter dance is planned for March 9 from 7-10 p.m. at the senior center. Registration at the parks and recreation office ends March 2. ’¢ Heard baseball and softball practice has started with some academy soccer teams playing games.

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