“In baseball, democracy shines its clearest. The only race that matters is the race to the bag. The creed is the rule book. And color, merely something to distinguish one team's uniform from another's.” - Earnie Harwell (legendary baseball radio announcer)
In the 1989 movie, Field of Dreams, an Iowa corn farmer hears a voice saying “If you build it, they will come.” And if you’ve seen the movie, you know the players did come, and the fans as well.
However, history doesn’t tell us if the leaders of Twin City heard the same voice when they created the Twin City Recreation department and constructed the baseball diamonds on Hwy 192 but the result was and is the same.
The players came, and are still coming.
So much so that the Twin City Recreation department became a victim of its own success.
Each year more and more families take advantage of the baseball and softball opportunities at the Twin City Recreation department and the overwhelming majority (75%) of these families live outside the corporate limits of Twin City.
More participation in the program invariably led to an increase in expenses and while sponsorships go a long way towards offsetting those expenses, the money was getting tight.
Which meant to keep it fair for everyone, there needed to be some adjustment in the funding of the program.
But Twin City’s leaders knew how important the role of recreation is in the lives of its citizens and those who used the facilities. “There was no way we were going to shut it down, or start turning away kids who wanted to participate in the program” says Twin City Mayor Pro-tem Matt Donaldson. “So I started looking for a solution.”
That’s when Donaldson and Emanuel County Commissioner Matt Blackburn (who represents the Twin City geographic area of the county) started working on the problem.
The solution that was eventually reached was the creation of the Twin City/Emanuel County Recreation Department with a board consisting of 2 county commissioners, 2 city commissioners, 1 county appointee, 1 city appointee, and 1 board appointee.
Blackburn says having a Recreation Department in Twin City has been beneficial to families that live in his district. “Considering the geographical size of Emanuel County, and the number of children in that area, it is important that the county provide accessible services. Many of these children would not have the opportunity to play sports if the TCEC Recreation Department didn’t exist.”
“Matt (Donaldson) and I worked closely with County Administrator Guy Singletary and the process took approximately a year. Several items had to be addressed, such as the County’s service delivery strategy agreements and Special Tax Districts.” said Blackburn.
In the end Twin City will pay half of the cost from City Revenues and the County will pay half of the cost through revenue generated in the unincorporated area and special municipal tax districts. The county portion will be approximately $25K.
The initial funding from the county will be used for capital improvements, such as scoreboards, fence, building repairs, grounds repairs, pitching machines, and maintenance equipment.
Blackburn said improving the quality of life for the families in his district was one of his primary goals for his first term. “It is vital that we provide recreational opportunities to all the Citizens of Emanuel County. I am glad that I have been able to help expand the level of recreational opportunities that will be available to the children in my district.