Garland Commission approves softball funding

By: By Chase Jordan -

GARLAND — After establishing a committee to resurrect a softball league, a group of volunteers will receive financial assistance.

During a Tuesday meeting, Garland Commissioners approved $5,000 in seed money for the organization working to bring softball back. Also, the board agreed to move $10,000 from the building fund to parks and recreation.

Recently, Commissioner Judy Smith led a meeting to discuss the formation of the organization. The meeting featured support from residents and supporters who want to see softball return to Garland. At the meeting, Smith introduced participating members to the board. Some of the members of the group will consist of a coach, public relations officials and a treasurer. Sign up days for volunteers are scheduled throughout April. Sampson County principals are assisting as well.

“We are moving forward,” Smith said. “It’s going to happen. I don’t know how many is going to sign up, but it’s going to happen.”

Smith made a request to transfer funds from the money market account to establish “seed” money for the softball league and the parks and recreation committee. About $5,000 in funds were discovered by Garland Financial Officer Pamela Cashwell.

Smith was grateful for Cashwell’s research, but she wanted more funding for softball operations. During a previous meeting, the commissioners approved to transfer $10,000 from the parks and recreation funding to the building fund to make repairs. Smith made a request to reverse the commissioner’s decision in order to move forward with paying for expenditures.

“I really need that money back so that I can move through this project,” Smith said. “The citizens of Garland are stepping up and volunteering their time and saying yes, ‘I do want this to happen.’”

Previously, Commissioner Carolyn Melvin made the request to increase the building fund. She commended the work of Smith and the softball supporters, but stressed the importance of making repairs to buildings such as the senior center.

“The senior citizens building alone, which is a very small building is very costly to keep up,” Melvin said referring to floor and door renovations. “The outside of the building looks horrible.” Smith agreed about the needed improvements of the senior building, but noted that proposals have not been drafted for it, unlike plans for softball.

“I have plans on the table right now and I’m ready to move forward,” Smith said. “We have a deadline and we got this ball league ready to start.”

Originally, Smith planned to have more than $10,000 available for softball, before parks and recreation funding was cut. After deliberation, the commissioners approved to move the funds back. Melvin voted against it, but she agreed to using other funds for the ball park. Mayor Winifred Murphy made a suggestion to look at repairs for the next fiscal period and noted how all departments are important.

“Every cent counts,” Murphy said.

Although the chunk of money went back to parks and recreation, Smith was not in favor of using all of it on softball.

“I feel that parks and rec is not just softball,” Smith said.

Smith presented estimates on light repairs and renovations for the small ball field. The estimate is about $2,500 and was approved by the commissioners. In February, the commission approved more than $4,000 in repairs for the largest ball field. Along with fence repairs, some of the work includes leveling and grading the field, adding dirt, edging and adding bases. Terry Long volunteered his services to assist with light repairs.

In addition to field work, Smith also discussed concession stand matters such as repairs, inspections, rentals and permits. When it comes to responsibility of the concession, Commissioner Ralph Smith said it should be handled by the by the softball committee, although Garland is responsible for the building.

“They will more self-sustaining than they are right now,” Smith said. “We’re just getting started.”

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

By Chase Jordan

Garland Commissioners S.J. Smith and Carolyn Melvin participate in a discussion about funding for softball operations. Commissioners S.J. Smith and Carolyn Melvin participate in a discussion about funding for softball operations.

Reach Chase Jordan at 910-249-4617. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.