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Community News May 21st, 2020 - 21:35:22

They will play: Rec. Department games to happen despite concerns from city, county governments.

By Dave Whitaker
May 21, 2020, 23:17

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Neither the city nor county governments want the Cochran Bleckley Recreation Department to go forward with opening day games this weekend. But neither have the authority to prevent it from happening.

That was a key part of the message delivered by Mayor Billy Yeomans during discussion about the rec. department at Thursday night’s called city council meeting. Before members dealt with the meeting agenda, Dr. Thomas Craft, Director of the South Central Health District, provided an update and took council questions regarding COVID-19.

He expressed concern about the rec. department’s plans to open this weekend, as well as host a travel baseball tournament from Top Gun Sports. Craft believed the more people were there, the harder it would be to enforce social distancing guidelines.

When the rec. department came up for discussion in the meeting, Yeomans read a proposed joint resolution between the city and county governments. Commissioner Bob Brockman had passed the resolution during his meeting held earlier in the afternoon.

In part, the resolution thanked the rec. board for their efforts to provide recreation to the citizens of Cochran and Bleckley County as well as the many volunteers who’ve helped. However, citing Governor Kemp’s ban on large gatherings and executive orders, as well as Dr. Craft’s recommendation that games not take place, It asked the rec. department to cancel games until it was safe for them to resume.

Yeomans then read a letter sent to him from attorney Joseph Sumner. Sumner, representing rec. board chair Chan Jones said they (the rec. authority) had sole discretion on operation of the rec. department

It stated numerous precautions had been put in place to ensure player safety such as removing players and fans from any field before the next game takes place as well as roping off areas to prevent gatherings. The letter stated Jones had spoken with Craft about his tentative plan and he approved. It also said they were within their right to reopen per Governor Kemp’s executive orders.

The letter further stated that it was important to provide the opportunity to children during this trying time and noted that it would be easier to social distance at the ballfield as opposed to a grocery store or other retail location.

Yeomans said after researching the matter while the city and county do jointly own the rec. department land and share funding responsibilities, the rec authority (rec. board) has sole authority regarding day to day operations. The resolution asking the rec. department to cancel was passed unanimously.

Yeomans said no one wins in this situation and he hoped things went well. He expressed a desire for better communication in the future. In mentioning the city appointing half the rec. board members, Councilman Gary Ates broached the possibility of recalling the board members. Yeomans said they would need cause to do so.

In speaking with Jones by phone after the meeting, he said games would take place this weekend as scheduled. Softball and T-Ball games will take place Friday night at 6 pm. Baseball games will take place Saturday at 10 am. There’s no current information available regarding the tournament.

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