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Macon-Bibb commissioners attempt to deal with improving recreation

On Thursday, July 10, Central Georgia's largest television station -- Macon's WMAZ-TV -- reported that problems continue to persist at local pools in Macon-Bibb.

The summer vacation for kids is almost over and with public schools set to begin in early August, Macon-Bibb has continued to fall short in the area of providing reliable public recreation for its citizens, specifically Macon-Bibb children.

There has been a debate about significantly reducing the number of days the pool should be open in an effort to 'save money' and questions pertaining to recreation as a whole in Macon-Bibb.

District 3 Commissioner Elaine Lucas told WMAZ-TV: "We have stood by for too long and allowed little to no progress on recreation. I think we're all guilty of neglecting our children and our folks."

Lucas has been one of the most vocal in regard to increasing recreational activities.

There is a train of thought in which providing recreational activities for younger people will help keep them out of trouble and provide something to do.

On the other side of the political spectrum, District 7 Commissioner, Scotty Shepherd had offered an opinion to the local media after voting yes in a 4-1 committee vote to extend pool hours in late June.

"I don't see where opening a swimming pool is going to reduce our shootings," Commissioner Scotty Shepherd said. "I don't think any of the people the sheriff has locked up recently have used our swimming pools. I don't think that they took time off from their drug dealing to go swim."

Recently, the pump at one of the Macon-Bibb pools at Booker T. Washington is not functioning properly and its director, Tony Lowden told WMAZ-TV how he felt about the situation.

"As you can see, we got a leak somewhere. We got a hose the fire department is running to fill up the pool on a daily basis."

He says this isn't the first year persistent leaks and a lack of repairs have kept the pools from running smoothly.

"That's poor management. Some people are gonna scream and yell and say there's not poor management, but a hit dog is always gonna holler."

He says the county is putting recreation on the back-burner.

"We moved $20,000 from recreation and put it into the general fund. We can't balance the books on the backs of our kids," he said.

Unfortunately, balancing the Macon-Bibb budget on the backs of the very young, poor, disenfranchised has already been played out in the county's first year as a consolidated governmental entity.

Even though funding was restored to museums and indigent care after a fierce budget debate in late June , the subsequent years are likely to be more of a challenge.

The East Macon community pool, previously open every other day, will now be open six days a week.

Extending one pool's hours is a compromise that came at the request of Commissioner Elaine Lucas, who previously asked that all of the county's pools extend hours of operations to give youth more to do during the summer months.

"I've been hearing from the very beginning of the swim season, 'Why in the world are the pools only open a few days? Why aren't they open as many days as possible?'" Lucas said.

This is the first year county pools are open every other day. Last year, three of six county pools were open each weekday.

Mayor Robert Reichert said it would be too costly for the county to extend hours at all of the pools.

Additionally, Reichert has gone on record in saying that it's not the Commission's job to make administrative decisions.

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