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January 18, 2013

VLPRA holds first meeting of new year

VALDOSTA — It was a rather light agenda at the first Valdosta-Lowndes County Parks and Recreation Authority meeting of the new year on Thursday.

The authority board met for less than 30 minutes, spending the majority of the time hearing the Director’s Report from VLPRA director George Page.

Page started his report by introducing Valdosta High sophomore Josh Hanson, who introduced Freedom Park’s newest addition.

Hanson, a Life Scout attempting to become an Eagle Scout, introduced his Freedom Park Orienteering Course outline, something he’s been working on for over eight months.

Hanson’s Orienteering Course, which actually consists of a beginners and intermediate course, allows participants the ability to find various checkpoints through compass navigation.

Each post has direct coordinates, which have been GPS verified, and the participants of the course are challenged to find all the posts throughout the park.

Hanson said he has been working on the project with his father, spending close to three hours each weekend walking the course in the park.

Following Hanson’s presentation, Page announced that the Georgia Recreation and Park Association’s District 3 youth basketball tournaments will be held in Valdosta next month.

The 7-year and 8-year-old tournaments, along with the 9-,10-,11-, and 12-year-old tournaments will all be held at various VLPRA facilities, including at the Forrest Street Gym and the Mildred Hunter Center.

The tournament, set for Feb. 21 and 22, will be the first postseason youth basketball tournaments for VLPRA teams under Page’s direction.

“It is the first time since we have been an authority,” Page said. “We just recently started competing in GRPA basketball. All of our teams have the opportunity to go compete at state. We are excited about being able to showcase our gyms and our facilities.”

Page also said the VLPRA has officially hired a new Public Information Officer. After receiving 75 applicants, Page and the VLPRA offered the position to Jessica Blanton, a Lowndes County native and graduate of the University of Georgia.

Following graduation from UGA, Blanton worked in various broadcasting jobs, including with Turner Broadcasting.

“She’s won a Peabody Award for her work,” Page said. “She is recently working with a group that puts together sports marketing that works with soldiers that have been overseas and connecting them with surprise visits with families. We are really excited about Jessica joining the team.”

Blanton will begin her new position at the VLPRA Jan. 31, according to Page.

The VLPRA’s Comprehensive Master Plan will be available in the next 30-60 days, according to Page. The plan will layout various recommendations to the VLPRA board for the direction of the VLPRA over the next five years.

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