THE MIRACLE LEAGUE
President Carl James called on Jim Arnold to introduce this week’s program. Jim introduced Leslie Holland, former Coach now Director of The Miracle League where everyone deserves a chance to play baseball. The Okefenokee League which began in 2004 is a structured baseball program for players ages 5 and up with physical or mental disabilities that would otherwise not be able to participate in traditional programs. It consists of six teams for some 80 players in two seasons, Spring and Fall, played on the fields at the Trembling Earth Sports Complex in Waycross. The games are designed to be a fun experience with lots of social interaction. Community volunteers serve as “buddies” to assist players for safety and social reasons.
A video of testimonials from volunteers put the feelings of joy and accomplishment on display. While already a great experience there is still a need that could improve the League even more. The dirt field is limited by weather. As she explains, power chairs and wet clay do not mix well and can require the cancellation of games. The solution is an accessible field with a surface of rubberized material or astroturf. Other cities such as Valdosta and St Mary’s in our area have such fields. The cost is projected at $500,000 and fundraising is an ongoing activity with $100,000 secured at this point. The League is a designated recipient from the Dancing with the Southern Stars event. You can support The Miracle League by supporting this event, by volunteering as a buddy, attending games or many other ways. Come and enjoy people playing a game just for the fun of it!
LAW ENFORCEMENT TRAINING
President Carl James called on Program Chair Jim Arnold for this week’s program. Jim introduced Lt. Michael Thrift, Commander of Training and Personnel for Ware County Sheriff’s Department. He called Lt. Thrift the ultimate “First Responder” because of his job history as a firefighter, EMS, and Law Enforcement background. He adds experience from Waycross Police Department to US Customs and Immigration. He has been with the Sheriff’s Department for over seven years.
He also wanted to add that he was a US Marine Corp Firefighter for six years. His current position as director/coordinator of personnel and training matters for 128 departmental employees with a wide variety of jobs is a challenge and opportunity. Even though slowed and complicated by Covid 19, the work of the department carried on. In 2020, there were 137 employees involved in 5856 training hours. The goal is that each employee receives 60-80 hours of training according to his job responsibilities. Then there are Georgia Peace Officer and Standards and Training requirements also. The hours of training broken down included 59 hours of firearms, 125 hours Use of Force, 142 hours of Deescalation, and 165 hours of Community Policing/Involvement. All directed to the safe and correct use of force in a variety of circumstances. Added to this is Crisis Intervention Training of forty hours covering mental health issues, alcohol and drugs, domestic and physical health issues without the use of a firearm.
A detention officer receives 80 hours of training specific to that job. The training staff is 5 instructors including the Sheriff delivering 99 separate classes, two J ail Schools, and 129 class days in each year. The public hears more about negative circumstances than the positive information on the good deeds of well-trained and prepared officers. It is important for our community to have a quality professional law enforcement presence in an educated environment.
Know that you are protected and served by the best-trained officers to the best of their abilities!