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Posted: March 13, 2012 8:23 p.m.

Travis: A little croquet anyone?

The Heartland Woman's Club will hold its 21st croquet tournament Saturday at Oxford College on the field behind the tennis courts. The tournament is for novices and anyone can learn to play in less than three minutes. Teams of two players usually play at least five matches which last around 20 minutes each, and team members are treated to breakfast, lunch and prizes. There will also be a silent auction.

Each year the proceeds are donated to various charities and organizations. This year the club has named the Newton County to receive at least half of the funds raised.

The Newton County Library System is truly something the whole county can boast about. Its branches are some of the most used facilities in the county. According Director Lace Keaton, over 586 thousand pieces of material were circulated last year and the library system had over 264,000 visits from patrons last year. There are less than 99,000 people in the county.

I am sure that all of you are aware that the library system, like most government agencies, is suffering from the economic downturn. It has had to cut staff and hours as it no longer receives the funding it once did. Keaton remains positive and the staff is dedicated to serving the public, making the most of what they have to work with.

While all library users are dismayed about the shortened hours, the other less publicized budget cut involves the purchase of new materials. Materials can mean books, DVDs, audio books, paper back and children's books and even magazine subscriptions.

The budget for purchasing new materials has been reduced to trying to purchase at least one copy of new best sellers. According to Keaton, the library system by state standards must spend 12 percent of its budget on the purchase of materials and that it will be difficult for the system to do that this year despite a generous grant from the Porter Foundation for new materials.

Keaton said that whatever funds the Heartland Woman's Club raises for the library will be much appreciated and that the money will be used to purchase new materials (books).

But how can we help the library remain something that Newton County citizens can point to with pride? There are many ways. You can donate money directly to the library. You can, as a present or memorial, have a book ordered for the library. It will contain a book plate with the name of the person honored. Buying children's books would be a wonderful theme for a child's birthday party, and the child could visit the library and check out "his books."

You could volunteer your time. Help is always needed in shelving books and culling old materials. You could join The Friends of the Library. Brochures about this organization are on the circulations desks of the library branches.

Or you could join the fun at the croquet tournament. The cost to play is $50 a person. If you do not have a team mate, one will be found for you. All you have to do it show up at the field at 9:30 a.m. That $50 will provide you with two meals (made by the members of the Heartland Woman's Club) and over five hours of fun for all ages; even children enjoy playing the uncomplicated game of golf croquet.

Dress appropriately, in all white, and you may win a prize. Be one of the top two teams in your bracket, and you will win a prize.

If you don't want to play, drop by and observe the fun and maybe bid on one of the objects in the silent auction. The auction items include jewelry, gift baskets, trips and many other exciting options.

For more information and contact information, check the calendar in The News for March 17.

Paula Travis is a retired teacher from the Newton County School System. She can be reached at ptravis@covnews.com.

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