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Fee on table for county
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Bryan County commissioners are weighing whether or not to charge non-county groups a fee for hosting sporting tournaments on its athletic fields.
Recreation directors Kay Green and Pratt Lockwood presented a draft of policies, including charging a rate for groups that want to rent athletic fields to host for-profit tournaments, to the Bryan County Board of Commissioners on Thursday during the board’s regular meeting at the administrative complex in South Bryan.
Green and Lockwood said various groups approached them about renting Hendrix Field in Ellabell, the Richmond Hill/Bryan County Park and Recreation Center on Timber Trail in Richmond Hill or the DeVaul Henderson Park in South Bryan. The directors had to turn those groups down because they didn’t have any rental policies in place.
Chairman Jimmy Burnsed asked Green and Lockwood to present the proposed policies to the Richmond Hill Recreation Association and the Hendrix Park Youth Association before the commissioners voted.
“Because we rely on our volunteers so much,” the policies should be presented to them, he said. 
The commissioners will discuss the issue again during their next meeting on Nov. 9 in Pembroke. Lockwood, who is in charge of North Bryan facilities, said Monday that some policies for Hendrix Field might be changed by the time he presents to the board again. Green, who oversees South Bryan facilities, also said Monday that the fee schedule presented to commissioners last week could change.   
According to the proposed policies, the county would charge different fees for the baseball/softball fields, the football/soccer fields, the gym and the turf field in South Bryan. The renters must pay a Bryan County staffer an hourly wage in lieu of the recreation department paying the employee overtime.
Lockwood and Green said that nonprofit agencies can apply to have the fees waived by the county board, but the renters would still be responsible for paying a staff member to oversee the event.
Green added that the recreation department would not charge Bryan County schools, the Richmond Hill Recreation Association or the Hendrix Park Youth Association to use the fields.
Pratt told the board he and Green based the rates on what other counties are charging, and their rate structure is slightly higher since they have better facilities, he said.
“We’re on the top end of that,” he said.
Lockwood and Green said the money charged to vendors would go back into the coffers of the facility that was rented. County Administrator Phil Jones said officials can set up two separate accounts for the North Bryan and South Bryan fields.
Jones told commissioners that a policy should be in place as soon as possible, while Commissioner Rick Gardner praised the formation of such policies.
“I’m ecstatic we’re starting to set up policies and procedures,” he said.
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