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Letter to the Editor

Writer suggests funding solutions to county baseball program


web posted March 19, 2009
Dear Editor,
I read with great interest your recent story concerning our county councils task of balancing the budget for the coming fiscal year. Most interesting to me was the fact that at least one individual in attendance of this meeting considered our recreational funding to be, "cookies and potato chips."  While I can't speak for how the sports of football, basketball or softball have been run, I can give some insight as to our local youth baseball program. 

As many of my fellow citizens in Edgefield know, I only became a resident here in late 1999, but have always had a supreme interest in youth baseball. If conducted correctly, I feel this activity to be one of the best ways to prepare our counties young people for certain aspects of their lives yet to come.  The game promotes fair play, team building, and the ability to see the outcome of hard work.  More importantly, it is a summertime activity which allows our children recreation during a time when it's sorely needed.

While I don't agree with any budget cuts to our present recreational funding, I must say that I've been disappointed in our local baseball leadership in terms of not moving to head these budget shortfalls off at a sooner date.  Over a year ago I began a dialogue with several of our youth baseball leaders, one in which I tried to point out the importance of self fund raising in an effort to make improvements to our facilities.

I was informed that the fields were owned by the town and that our local league wasn't in need of any additional monies.  Now, it appears that we find ourselves staring a funding cut in the face, one that with proper planning could have had little to no negative effect on our leagues future. In addition, we may lose an employee from the recreational department. 

Over the years I've been fortunate to witness several local youth baseball programs and how they're run.  The one common denominator amongst the most successful programs is that they are funded solely by private means.  Private funding builds interest in a program like nothing else.  When individuals are made responsible, not government, you will always obtain your best results. That being said, I'm not suggesting that our local youth baseball program be totally funded privately, I simply think that our leadership needs to become more proactive in its approach to providing
opportunities for the youth of our county. 

During the same period of time that I began my conversations with local league officials, I hand delivered letters to both Mr. John Peddigrew and Mayor Ken Durham.  In those letters, I outlined a plan that would have started our league on the road to some financial freedom, which in turn appears could have helped to possibly save a job and lessen our dependancy on county tax payers.  I would assume that both still have these letters on file and at this time I would implore both men to retrieve and study them.  In my honest opinion, both the county and town should have the ability to
dictate certain criteria to the local league because of their generous support. 

In closing, I would like to say how much I appreciate our current Board of Directors and all the hard work that they do.  I know from first hand experience that it can be a thankless job, one that far too often finds a small handful of individuals doing the greatest majority of the work.  However, now is the time to understand that in order to provide the optimum opportunity for our counties youth, we must be willing to go further and do more without depending as heavily on the county.  I'm afraid the present
economic situation makes this a must.
 
John L. Brown Jr.
Edgefield




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