PICKLEBALL PLAYED HERE!
President Jim Stapleton called on July Program Chair Jim Arnold to introduce Ben Bishop, Advocate, and Ambassador for Pickleball, who moved to Waycross from Roswell in 2018 with his wife and daughter. He works for Stafford/Smith in sales of food equipment and has Bishop Landscaping business also. His purpose is to introduce one of the fastest-growing participation sports in the nation. A short video from a recent news release gave a quick national overview of what pickleball looks like and who is playing. There are two indoor courts at the YMCA, two outdoor courts at Monroe Park, and one court at the tennis court in Schlatterville. Mr. Bishop was instrumental in getting four courts installed at the Okefenokee Country Club. The turnout has been exciting with highs of 30 and 45 turning out to play on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The game is built on a foundation of “fairness”, fun, social and friendly competition. The court is 20’x44’ for both singles and doubles with a net at 34” in the middle. “The feel of tennis without all the running”, says one player. Some of the interesting statistics offered were 60% of core players are 55 or older with an average of 51.5 but casual players come in at 35.5 years of age. Although the game was invented in 1965 in Washington State, it has evolved from handmade equipment and simple rules of multiple sports into a highly sponsored and popular sport with tournaments all over the nation and even featured on TV. Many communities now boast about the number of courts (180 at The Villages in Florida) to attract newcomers and as an amenity for all ages. Everyone should try it for many beneficial reasons from exercise, friendly competition, and professional attraction to building better communities! Let’s play pickleball!
Former District 10 Director Roger Collins delivered the Oath of Office to Immediate Past President Jim Stapleton, Treasurer Larry Paulk, President-Elect Craig Head, Board Members David Johnson, and George Barnhill.
Ben Thornton Award for Congeniality presented to Michael Ray.
The New Goal of 135 pints was not reached but still, 131 pints were received.
FRIENDS OF LAURA WALKER STATE PARK
President Carl James called on Jim Stapleton who was standing in for Program Chair Jim Arnold to introduce this week’s program. Jim introduced Dawn and Mike Hansen, co-presidents of Friends of Laura S. Walker State Park. Originally from South Dakota, they chose to retire in Waycross after their service to the US Postal Service. Dawn did the speaking by relating that early in their retirement they liked camping so much that would spend any spare time at Walker State Park. They were known to the staff and one of them mentioned that they met the criteria for being formally known as “Friends of the Park”. The mission of the group is to take an active role in the preservation, promotion, and protection of the resources of Laura S. Walker State Park and to act as advocates for its growth, enhancement of its natural resources, and future development. In the last few years, the group has spearheaded improvements to the nature trails and the dog park along with work on other park amenities listed in their brochure. “Friends” are the fund-raising arm and volunteer force behind keeping the park running and maintained. Recapping some of their recent special events, she listed the Fall Festival coming up on October 23 this year, the July Fourth Celebration held on July 3rd, Father’s Day fishing rodeo, Golf Tournament fundraising, and several others. She encouraged Exchange members to join and support the “Friends” group as it meets on the first Monday of each month to give back to the place that has given so many great opportunities they have enjoyed and others may experience those same opportunities.