September 17, 2006


Several months ago concerned citizens addressed the BOC about the Recreation Department and the way it was being managed. Even a member of the Recreation Board attended and stated they could not hold meetings because a quorum was never present when a meeting was called. Again in April 2006 the recreation department was discussed at the BOC meeting. The Commissioners debated if they should buy the Recreation Director (Don Shipp) a new truck (which he now uses to drive back and forth to work from his home).

After voting to buy a new truck, the question was asked during citizen comments about what was being done about the problems at the recreation department. Comm. Yarbrough immediately spoke up and said he was at the rec fields twice a week and he didn’t see any problems.

After speaking with many parents and also with some of the children that utilize the rec fields and participate in the activities offered, the TWG compiled a list of the complaints that were heard over and over and over. These problems have been around for years, but the Commissioners have never done anything about them.

Following is the list of the most common complaints:

1. 400 kids and not enough fields. Waiting lists for teams. How many people work at Rec, 1? 2?

2. No checks & balances & Recreation Director not accountable to anyone. What is the procedural policy, especially with the money?

3. No improvements in over 5 years (heard from everyone)

4. Rocks all over the field. (Several people)

5. Nothing maintained and kept nice.

6. Batting cages—nets down. No lights where they are. Can’t even use them. Could help with practice if could use.

7. Parking lot not maintained. Piles of sand, rocks and gravel sitting there and has been out there “forever.”

8. Old trailer, old equipment laying around. Grass all grown up around it. (everyone comments on this problem)

9. Score Board—Coca Cola will maintain if order so many Cokes. Rec Director wouldn’t do this. Baseball board finally got it done. Cost of just changing a light was ridiculous, now free. No oversight. What does Rec Board do?

10. Who handles accounting of money--concessions, tournaments, etc. What are the checks and balances. Over $3000 raised ONE day at Concession stand. Where did money go?

11. Special groups raise money for special purposes. Baseball, basketball, etc. No accounting for this money and no visible results on the fields.

12. 2 years ago, volunteers sodded and fertilized the main field for the tournament. Now there is no maintenance other than mowing. Volunteers have done all the real work for the last several years.

13. No regular maintenance of the fields and pitching mounds. (several) Pitcher mounds need to be rebuilt every year. What does Rec Director do during off season?

14. 2004 Tournament sign still up—too lazy to take it down? (heard this from everyone!) This just shows how unkept things are and Rec Director doesn’t care.

15. Trash around all the garbage cans and all over the ground. (Several)

16. All other counties have nice/perfect fields and everything is clean. Not at Jasper. It’s embarassing when other teams come from out of town.

17. Little kids are having to practice at 7:30-8:00 at night and not getting finished until 8:45pm. Not right for 6 year olds to have to practice this late.

18. Everything is so grown up and junky. Old equipment and stuff just sitting around. Old lawnmowers and kids play all over it. Someone is going to get hurt. Landfill is only 20 yards away; you’d think Rec Director would have enough initiative to haul the stuff off and clean up the mess.

19. Office upstairs is nasty. Kids go up and down the steps all the time. Someone is going to get hurt. Just a disaster waiting to happen. Need gate or door so only personnel can go up into the “press box.”

20. Kids pay $40 to sign up and for uniforms. On one team they were 4 uniforms short. These kids were devasted. No excuse for it! Rec Director doesn’t get anything done. Coaches went out and bought caps and socks and their own expense for kids on the team. Don says things are backordered. Why does he wait so long that things aren’t available when season starts?

21. Women’s bathroom—no toilet paper, lights don’t work. Usually no paper towels.

This list of complaints and concerns was given to Bob Yarbrough at 4/17/06 meeting. He again said he goes two times a week and doesn’t see these problems. If you are concerned you should contact him and the other commissioners yourself!
Their email addresses and telephone numbers are listed at http://www.taxdogs.com/commissioners.htm

It seems that since baseball season is over (when we received the above complaints) that football season hasn’t gotten off to a good start either. The following editorial was in the Monticello News on 8/31/06. It’s up to the people that utilize the Recreation Department to speak up and out and demand change if they want something to be done!

Football Players Without A Team
Monticello News, 8/31/06

You know, it’s sad that the 11- and 12-year-old boys will not have a football team this year. Instead, they’ll have to play within the Butts County Recreation Department with a bunch of coaches and players that they do not know. What’s that mean for the 11- and 12-year- old cheerleaders? Are they, as Monticello Hurricane cheerleaders, to come to Jackson to cheer or do they cheer at all?

I have been a parent in the stands and I have been a coach for baseball, Softball and football. I have coached in Monticello and Conyers. I have been coaching for several years. Never have I seen a Recreation Department in more need of restructuring. I would like to know who to blame for the problems.

The director? The County Commissioners? The parents? The school? Who’s to blame for all the problems? There is no communication, planning or advertising within that department.

Take last year’s baseball, for instance. Our team made it to the playoffs. The parents and coaches were given the wrong dates of games and had to make sudden changes in schedules, which meant that some of the kids did not make it to the games. The kids wore uniforms meant for a [different] age group, (none of the uniforms fit).

Take last year’s football teams, again, we were misinformed on game dates, causing players to miss games. We played one game in Jackson and the rest of the games were played against Spalding County, in Spalding County. We had three home games.

This year with football, we suffer from poor advertising. Many parents and children was not aware of football signups until open house on August 10, and final signups were scheduled for August 12. I’m sure that sign-ups were probably posted in The Monticello News, but some of the citizens in the rural areas and some of the tenants in the Turtle Cove area, who do not work near Monticello, do not receive or buy the local paper regularly.

Football signups should start on the first day of school or the weekend prior, with notice given at open house. The 11- and 12-year-olds did not even have a coach of any type until August 12.

So where does the kids football future stand right now? Due to commutes from work to home, then from home to Jackson, some of the parents are being forced to remove the kids from the team. This is saddening. This is the last or two years, that they can play and learn the game of football before trying out for the Junior High squad. Just so you know, only 10 kids signed up to play.

Others were talked to in school about signing up, but the parents were unable to do so, because of the lack of notification and other plans were made. The 10 kids that signed up have shown that they have the heart and drive to play. Unfortunately, most of them will not play because of the commute.

These kids are football players without a football team and its because somebody within the county government does not care about the kids. I would like an answer to some, if not all of these questions. So would these football players who will be sitting at home on Saturdays, instead of playing the sport that they love, with their friends, displaying purple and white with pride, as they have done for the last few years.

What happens with the next sporting season? Chances are, it will be just as screwed up if changes and improvements are not put in motion. I ask all parents who agree with these comments, to respond by letting the County Commisioners and/or the Recreation Director hear your concerns.

Concerned Parent and Coach


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