The world game finds a home in Camilla - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

The world game finds a home in Camilla

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By Jay Polk - bio | email

MITCHELL COUNTY, GA (WALB) – For more than 40 years, a plot of land on Bennett Street in Camilla housed the type of factory that would have been common in South Georgia years ago.

"The site...was once Camilla Wood Preserving," said Mitchell County Administrator Bennett Adams.

The plant turned out thousands of wooden light poles, but it closed in 1991.  And what was left was a mess.  Enter the Environmental Protection Agency: "it became a Superfund site," said Adams.

Superfund was created by Congress 30 years ago to help clean up places like the old Camilla Wood Preserving site.  At a cost of almost 2.5 million dollars, EPA removed the chemicals that had been used here.  But now that it was clean, what could they do with the land?

For years the property sat abandoned, but with some help, Mitchell County leaders were able to achieve one of their goals, providing more recreational opportunities for their citizens.

In the past few years, the sport of soccer had grown in popularity in the county.  But there was no place for kids to play.

"We drew soccer fields on the baseball fields.  That's where they were playing," said Lauren Godwin of Mitchell County Parks and Recreation Department.

So the City of Camilla and Mitchell County got the ball rolling and after a couple of years, what had been a dumping site contained a brand new soccer complex.  An idea that has proven to be quite a success.

"In a given season, approximately 100 children come out here to play," said Godwin.

And soccer isn't the only activity that takes place here.

Adams said, "we also have an aerobics room that we've developed where we have four classes a week of aerobics that are taught there."

While there is more to do here, the heavy lifting is done.  And Mitchell County recently reaped the rewards for its innovative thinking when it was named a County of Excellence by the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia. 

"It's nice to know you're being recognized for a project that we're all real proud of," said Adams.

Now that these fields of dreams are in place, kids in Camilla can dream about being the next David Beckham or Mia Hamm.

And Mitchell County isn't done with the site.  There are also plans for a walking trail and a flood control project.

Decatur County also won an award from ACCG for turning a former paper mill into a wildlife refuge area.

Both counties will receive their awards on April 24th in Savannah.

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