Commissioners debate funding for summer program -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Commissioners debate funding for summer program

Coach Robert Skinner Coach Robert Skinner

Dougherty County leaders are debating whether to give money to an Albany summer program that starts next week.  Organizers say they've had to make changes because of the lack of funding from various sources.

Every summer for five weeks Albany State University hosts the National Youth Sports Program,  aimed at keeping hundreds of 9 to 15 year-olds active and off the streets.

"What we're trying to do is simulate what they go through throughout the course of the year. Give them opportunities to participate in athletic events, swimming and also get some educational activities during the summer," said Robert Skinner, director of the program.

 In recent years the program, which relied on government funding, has seen cuts and now depends on private donations.

Monday, Dougherty County commissioners debated denying a funding request for $15,000.

Commissioner John Hayes made a substitute motion to give the program $6,000. "My attempt was to simply say that we quite frankly get a good deal of benefit to our local economy from Albany State University. And in some small way we have an opportunity to give something back. Not at the level that was requested, but at a reduced level," said Hayes.

Commissioners were split, Jack Stone requested more information before moving forward.

"It shows the leadership of the county. It shows that it may not be enough, it may not be all, but we are giving something," said Commissioner Clinton Johnson.

Skinner says the lack of funding has forced them to hire about 25 to 30 instructors instead of the usual 40. "We're taking some of the recreation out of the program and using more of a camp structure simply because we won't have to hire as many people to do this. And we will be able to utilize the facilities on the campus a little bit better."

Organizers are expecting between 350 and 400 children Tuesday, May 27th, the first day of the program...and they will be ready, funding or not.

"We really attempted a lot earlier this year to generate more funding. Unfortunately some of the grants that we applied for have not come through yet. We still have hope that they may come through, but at the same time we have to carry on," said Skinner.

Commissioners are expected to discuss the request again at their next meeting.

Organizers are still accepting applications and donations. Call Robert Skinner at 229-430-3817 for more information.


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