Spring is the season of change and if all goes according to plan for the Banks County Recreation Department (BCRD) one big change being pushed by department director Joe Gailey would be the addition of the Booster Club for the rec department.
“The booster club is new, and is something we have wanted to get started and was recently approved by the commissioners,” Gailey said.
As reported in the Feb. 9 edition of the The Banks County News, the Banks County BOC approved Gailey’s request to form the BCRD Booster Club. In the application to commissioners, Gailey stated that funds would be raised through yearly dues and various fundraisers with the funds directly going to needed areas at the rec department.
“The reason we want to form the Booster Club is to help the taxpayer out, but still keep the programs up to date,” said Gailey.
With a budget of almost $296,000 for the year, Gailey said that the Booster Club would help ease the burden on county taxpayers by helping raise funds for needed items, and for sudden costs that are non-budgeted.
“The Booster Club would raise money, then say for instance, if a pitching machine tears up mid-season, and I haven’t budgeted for that because at the end of last season it was working great and it now is costs more to fix it than it would be worth to buy a new one. We would have the funds available to make that purchase,” he said.
Raising money through the Booster Club will be a three-fold venture, according to Gailey. With dues from members making up one part, sponsorships from local business or individuals being the second and other fundraisers like opening day barbecues, or picture days being the third.
For membership dues, the minimum yearly fee will be either $5 per person, or $10 per family. For sponsorships Gailey said that it would be a yearly fee which would allow local business to sponsor BCRD throughout the year.
“We want to go to all the business, here in Homer and at Banks Crossing and canvas the area for sponsors, then go to the sponsors and say your sponsor ship this year is X dollar amount,” he said. “We will know how much a sign or banner will cost and that comes out of that amount and these sponsors pay per year. Then the sign will go outside during the spring months and through the fall for football. When we start basketball we will move the signs into the gym. That way people will see who our sponsors are during the whole year. That will be the biggest revenue fund source for us.”
While business sponsorships are going to be the big push for the Booster Club to raise funds, Gailey is also open to individuals in the community who want to donate to help.
“If we have any individuals who want to donate money anonymously, or if they want their name put on a sign, it is fine,” Gailey said. “If someone comes to donate to the Booster Club, or to a specific program and says ‘Joe, I want this money to go toward a batting cage and here is a check for $1,500.’ That is what that $1,500 will be earmarked to be used for. If they want it named for them or someone, it will be named that. That is part of the donation is the way I look at it.”
While the Booster Club is not quite ready to start accepting members yet, Gailey said that there are a few policies still to be put into place that will make sure the club is setup well and take care of necessary paperwork.
“The Booster Club will be a good function for us here.”
One of the main items that a Booster Club would help BCRD pay for is the reconditioning of football helmets and shoulder pads. The reconditioning is done on a rotating basis of every three years to maintain the integrity of the equipment from a safety standpoint.
“Safety is a big point in this and for us, we want to absorb the fee ($20 per helmet and $20 per set of pads) instead of charging to the county. The program should pay for itself, which is the way I see it,” Gailey said. “If the programs includes that reconditioning fee I have to find that money elsewhere without bumping the fees way up like the metro counties. This is where the Booster Club steps in.”
“The fees we charge are lower or as low as anyone else around,” said Gailey. “That is a good thing if we can keep our fees down by having more participants.”
While the Booster Club is one of the biggest changes coming to the BCRD, it is not the only one Gailey has in store for 2011.
Others changes include:
• shorter registration periods, going to five weeks plus a late week instead of the prior eight week registration
• implementation of usage fees. Non-county residents, will have a fee for use. Banks County residents will have use of the park and horse arena when it is available between games or open schedule without charge. Nighttime use will also be allowed at the ball-fields, but there will be a user fee for both county and non-county residents to cover the cost of turning on the lights. The new fee structure is in place that was approved last fall by the BOC.
• football program will join the North Georgia Youth Football Association, breaking from the BJC League. More information will be available closer to the registration period for the fall.
• more co-operative camps between BCRD and other organizations, such as 4-H, Family Connections and the horse clubs, The Banks County Horse Association and Banks Crossing Saddle Club.
• improvements around the park to make it more handicap accessible for parking and at concessions.
• creating a new website loaded with information and easier online registration.
“We are going to a new company for online registration before football and soccer. It is a Georgia based company instead of one in California. The fee will be a lot less and will be better for the taxpayers.”
The new registration software will also allow Gailey to easily pull up reports about registration and view statistical information about the sports.
• working closer with the middle school and high school coaches to provide opportunity to all students in the county.
“I don’t consider us a feeder program, but in a small community like this every kid will have the opportunity, if they so desire to play on the middle school and high school level,” said Gailey. “The more they learn about that specific sport at the rec department about the sportsmanship and fundamentals of the game will help them when they go to tryout for that team at the school. We want to offer more opportunities for the kids and be beneficial for them.”
• continue to offer camps, like art camps or other activities for both youth and adults.
“I hope to add adult sports here in the future as early as late summer this year. One person approached me about starting a Zumba dance class, which is geared toward adults. If anybody has suggestions about something they would like to see us offer, by all means let us know. If we offer it we normally have to have six to 12 participants to take place to make it worth the instructors time. If we have seven or 10 that start and then it grows by word of mouth from there, that is a good thing,” Gailey said.
Gailey, who started at BCRD in Sept. 2010, has been involved at some level of recreation either at the local or state level since his first job as athletic director at White County in 1985. Since then, Gailey has worked with boys group homes as the rec coordinator before returning to recreation departments fulltime in 1991. He is familiar with several of the area mountain counties, working in Hall, White Habersham, Lumpkin and Stephens counties.
Gailey came to Banks County after the last four and a half years at Hardeeville, SC, across the river from Savannah.
“It is a small place, smaller than Homer and Banks County if you can believe it,” he said.
While there Gailey helped the rec department double youth football and baseball teams and completed a major reconstruction project of the facility which is now being used by area universities as a practice facility.
With his strong background in the recreation as a guide, Gailey is confident that Banks County has a bright future.
“Banks County will grow as the economy comes back,” Gailey said. “It is a great community here, and a good place for me and my family to be. I’m glad to be back in the mountains.”
“Recreation is still recreation no matter where you are. It’s how you work with the people in the community and relate to them and make it an enjoyable experience for them to participant in whether it is as a player or as a spectator. The staff is really good here, and they know a lot of the people. I am still learning names,” he said.
“I expect to see the programs grow as it goes on. School is the most important thing and then we want to be here to help fill free time for families and be a fun place and something positive for people to enjoy. I want it to be a positive place, with positive cheering for the kids. The kids need this to be a positive place for them.”