$2M recreational money: New fund created for Sumrall rec facilities

By HASKEL BURNS,

Officials from Sumrall are in the process of setting up a fund for the $2 million earmarked for recreational facilities in the city – in particular, the sports complex on Mississippi 42 – as a result of Senate Bill 3065.

The Sumrall Board of Aldermen recently voted to open an account with Hancock Whitney Bank styled “2019 Town of Sumrall Recreational Facilities Fund,” along with a resolution declaring the necessity for the issuance of state general obligation bonds for the monies.

“We have to work through the Department of Finance and Administration to get all that, and we won’t see that money until September or October from what I’m understanding,” Mayor Heath Sumrall said. “We just have to go through all the motions to apply for it – there were about seven different items on (the agenda) that we had to pass to authorize us to pursue getting that money.”

Senate Bill 3065, which was recently authored by Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, allowed the Mississippi Legislature to pursue borrowing $207 million in state-issued bonds for several projects around the state, including the $2 million for Sumrall and $13.3 million for the University of Southern Mississippi. Southern Miss will use its share of the funds for three areas of improvement – renovations at the Cook Library, transit improvements and renovations at the Kinesiology Building – while Sumrall’s funds will be used to expand the sports complex to accommodate the growing number of participants.

“Right now, there’s about 10 acres (at the sports complex) where the Little League baseball folks play out there,” Fillingane said in a previous story. “It’s a wonderful facility, but it’s just very small, and I think there’s about 300 kids already playing on the three fields, so they just have to kind of rotate all weekend long.

“So they’re looking for some areas to expand, with more baseball fields. Also there’s a new tennis team that Sumrall High School has, and they need a place to practice and to play matches. So we’re looking at doing a small tennis court complex on the property, as well as a couple of more soccer fields.”

Over the last several months, sports clubs around Sumrall – including tennis, soccer and Little League teams – have been raising private funds to go toward the improvement of the sports complex.

“They’re doing a really good job with getting that money gathered up, and doing what they can on their own,” Fillingane said. “But obviously we were trying to help them expedite that project.”

The $2 million from Senate Bill 3065 follows the $500,000 that was secured by Lamar County late last year as part of the BP Settlement Bill. Those funds, which were a result of Mississippi’s lawsuit regarding the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, are earmarked for the construction of six tennis courts at the sports complex.