Like everyone else, I have heard rumors about celebrities Steve Harvey and Tyler Perry buying The Rock Ranch from the Cathy family for the past two years. But the deal never came to fruition and most figured it would never happen.
Then, late on Friday, May 20, I was told the deal had been closed. As it turned out, Perry was not involved. He is apparently busy building a modern day Versailles out in Douglas County. There had been concerns in the region about just what would happen on the sprawling property so the Harveys conducted a town hall meeting the next day in Thomaston.
I was invited and consider it a blessing that I was.
Harvey and his wife Marjorie bought the property personally and will rename it Legacy Ranch. Harvey ran youth camps for troubled boys at the ranch in 2018-19 before COVID shut things down. He brought in National Guard members to break down tough kids headed down the wrong road and then build them back up again.
“We are now the new stewards of this land,” said Marjorie who plans to run summer camps for girls as well. She wants to revitalize the gardens and berry patches and reopen the little farm store.
Steve is a natural born comic – a jokester/prankster but one with a deep faith and the courage of his convictions.
He addressed worries about the commercialization of the farm thusly, “This is going to be a getaway for me. I spend all my time in Hollywood surrounded by people I don’t know. I want to go fishing. I want to put on my boots and walk the dirt. We are going to put back in place everything that was in place at the ranch before COVID hit. There will be no commercializing. I want to be able to get away from all that.”
The Harveys do intend to build housing for their campers. Renting and erecting tents for the seven days they hosted 200 kids cost them $375,000 per session. They also have had initial talks with the Atlanta Braves about putting in a baseball field and MLS about installing a soccer pitch.
“Our camps run for three months during the summer. The other nine months we will be open to the public. Your kids can come to our STEM center and learn coding. We will eventually build a house out there for ourselves,” Steve added.
But the emphasis will be on straightening out wayward teens.
“In 13 years we have never had an incident. We’ve never had to call in law enforcement. I am an expert at flipping boys’ lives. We let rap music raise our kids. What kind of message are they hearing?,” Steve asked.
The Harveys previously did camps on a ranch they owned in Texas which was smaller and hard to get to.
“I wanted 200 acres for my camps. I put it on the vision board. God gave me 1800 acres. I really had no choice but to buy this place because this is what God told me to do,” Steve concluded.
In my opinion, those of you who were worried about what would happen on this beautiful property can rest easy. The Rock Ranch is in good hands, God-fearing hands.
That is the recipe for success!
Walter Geiger is editor and publisher of the Pike County Journal Reporter and The Herald Gazette in Barnesville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.