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THURSDAY, JANUARY 25, 2007
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Athens unsure about softball
City considering taking over
reins of association

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

ATHENS — After about a week of discussions, whether the city will take over operation of the Girls Softball Association still is unknown.

Mayor Dan Williams said he was to meet with Parks and Recreation Director Ben Wiley on Thursday morning to reach a compromise.

Although it is a city league, a parent board currently runs the local association.

Complaints, however, led to Wiley suggesting the city take over operation.

City officials said they received complaints that the league has been financially supporting the local travel ball organization, North Alabama Explosion.

There also were complaints that travel ball games and practices interfered with league play.

Incorporation

Outgoing GSA president David Gregory, who also is involved with the Explosion, said he spoke to an attorney Wednesday about incorporating the Explosion, which will help separate the two entities.

Gregory said the two entities share some of the same parents and players, and shared use of the city concession stand and concession items, but each organization paid for the items it used.

He said the league has not financially supported travel ball, and there have not been scheduling conflicts. Gregory said the league season ends at the end of May while travel ball is in the summer.

Council President Harold Wales said he "hasn't been asked to go" to any meetings with Wiley or Williams.

"But I have been getting calls all day," he said Wednesday, "and I want the public to know my stance. I'm for the kids. I agree with what Ben Wiley is trying to do, to keep the two entities separate. Once the league's season is over, then let the travel ball do their thing. Their tournaments make money for the city, and it's a good way for the children to improve their skills, but travel ball should work through Ben and pay a fee to use the concession stand."

Gregory said, I admit we have issues we need to address to make sure both entities are separate, but weve been doing a good job for these girls.

He said that out of eight Athens High senior players from last years Explosion team, seven received softball scholarship offers. They also played league ball.

I just ask for another chance to let us prove we can separate the two and have more financial accountability for the city without the city taking us over, Gregory said.

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