By R. Alan Richardson sports editor
The Morgan County Recreation Department put on a festive event at Camp Twin Lakes in Rutledge this past week to thank all the volunteers and sponsors that included one of the best meals you could imagine, awards for some of the volunteers, and a raffle ticket drawing that included a 43 inch big screen TV. This is the first time that Camp Twin Lakes has hosted the event and they went out of their way to make the gathering one of the best in recent memory. Lance Alexander, MCRD director, gave an introduction to the 300+ crowd that praised the steak chefs of Ricky Watkins, Gerold Armistead, Wesley Thompson, and Sheriff Markley.
This was followed by an invocation by his brother Matt Alexander and a meal fit for a king before the ceremonies started. Rusty Ewing presided over the majority of the evening’s events and awards including a commendation for all of the Recreation Department’s sponsors and volunteers and recognition of County Commissioners in attendance that included Andy Ainslie, Donald Harris, Ellen Warren, Ron Milton, and Philip Clack as well as County Manager Michael Lamar. Others that were thanked included Madison Mayor Fred Perriman, City Manager David Nunn, and the Madison City Council that included Carrie Peters-Reid, Bobby Crawford, Joe Diletto, Rick Blanton, and Chris Hodges. He also recognized the Morgan County BOE for their support.
Those members were Superintendent James Woodard, Chairman Nelson Hale, Andrew Ainslie, Erika Veasly, Keith Howard, and Brad Evans. Ewing then gave thanks to all the MCRD staff of Lance Alexander (25 years), Andy Dunston (9), Chris Sides (8), Jay Doss (6), Tony Hardeman (19), Samuel Simmons (1), Chris Burden (2), Drew Torok (8 months), Andrea Ross (intern from Georgia Southern), and the glue that holds them all together Brenda McAdams (7). Twin Lakes Director Dan Matthews was the first to address the crowd saying, “We won’t to welcome everyone here tonight and hope you enjoy our facilities. This camp is a rite of passage for many children that come here throughout the year. Many of us live here full-time and are very proud of the services and camps we provide for children and adults with illnesses and disabilities.
We are especially proud of the circle out front that has a medical lodge where we can provide dialysis, chemotherapy treatments, and many other types of necessary medical treatments for those children who visit our camp throughout the year. We have over 60 non-profit organizations that donate to our cause covering 80% of all costs for every camper, and have a new Charles Baldwin farm here for our deceased friend who gave so much of his time to this facility. The motto for Camp Twin Lakes is “Where Challenges Become Triumphs” and they hold about 67 camps during the year that include camps for: serious illnesses, disabilities, life challenges, and adult campers. These people are giving back to our society and Morgan County. Alexander took front and center and re-emphasized the community relationships with sponsors.
“We live in a very special place where the community is overwhelmingly generous in giving. We also have a special relationship with all of the Morgan County High School and Middle School coaches like Steve Cisson, Anne Stamps, Kelly Brown, Dusty Hawkins, Brian Cousins, Milfred Franklin, Jonathan Nelson, Doug Connelly, Merritt Ainslie, Bill Malone, and Jamond Sims. There are many others in the equation but these are some of the day-to-day relationships that help build the successful program that we have. He then went on to mention some of the many accomplishments of the year. “We put out a color brochure of all of our programs that got us a state award, made a total renovation of our soccer field, put topdressing on all of our outfields at Bill Wood Park, revitalized the trail system at BW Park, hosted several tournaments and swim meets that are economic boosters, added yoga and boot camp classes, and introduced our cross country program.
However, the program that touched me the most and made me the most proud was our Spirit League this fall and summer that caters to those individuals with special needs. As our program continues to grow, the Recreation Commission has seen the need to introduce a long term facility plant for our future.” From 2014-15 the MCRD has seen a growth in teams from 120-133 in all sports that took a minimum of 400 volunteers to make it all happen as well as finding enough sponsors to match with every team and they made that happen. Jay Doss and Alexander took the stage to present volunteer and sponsor of the year awards along with introducing the Morgan County Recreation Commission. Members included Ewing, Cameron Woodward, Russell Carter, Glenda Ross, Randy Brown, Chris Kennedy, Daryl Malcom, Cedric Huff, and Joey Lancaster. Sponsors of the year were United Tower (6 years) under Tracy Singleton, Jason Singleton, and Danny Tillery, Georgia Civil, Inc. (6 years) under Todd Peaster, Jason Brown, and Paul Ogelby, Covington Hearth and Home (10 years) under Jack and Lori Frost, American Legion Post 37, and The Medicine Shoppe under David Moore.
The three highlights of the night included naming 2015’s volunteers of the year, the Hall of Fame Award, and the Employee Award. The volunteers of the year included Andrew Ainslie III for five years of service coaching almost every sport his two children were involved in, Kim Smith with seven years coaching basketball, soccer, and track (she has been a key to revitalizing the girls’ basketball program), and Jack Frost for his 10 years of giving his time to programs throughout the Recreation Department.
The first inaugural Hall of Fame Award was presented by Carter to Alvin White for his 40 years of service to the MCRD from 1975-2015. Carter said about White, “Alvin has served unselfishly for so many years. He is a Morgan County, UGA, and LSU graduate who has lived and worked in the county with Federal Land Bank, Farm Credit, and for Pat Reems. We appreciate his many years of service with us, the Lions Club, and as a member of Madison Baptist Church. Somehow his wife has been able to put up with him for 48 years.” Alexander awarded the Employee Award to J.D. Doss for his 24 years of service to the MCRD by saying, “We haven’t had an opportunity to thank J.D. since his retirement in January. We are best friends who fought, laughed, and cried a lot together over those many years and we all know he’s been through an ordeal lately. It’s good to know that he’s got all of us praying for him. This man has touched so many kids’ lives over the years with his easy-going and personable way that we can’t imagine the extent of what it will mean in the years to come.”fun to coach them.”