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Recreation Commission cancels youth football, cheer for 2020; approves bonus repayment schedule

COVINGTON, Ga. — Youth football teams and cheer squads won’t take the field in Newton County this fall.

The Newton County Recreation Commission met via teleconference Tuesday night for the final time to discuss the possibility of offering fall sports this season and came to the conclusion that football and cheer would pose too great a risk.

“It’s a wait and see approach,” Newton County Recreation Executive Director Ternard Turner told the commission. “Everybody is kind of like at a standstill. The COVID-19 numbers are going up tremendously. I know there are a number of colleges that have canceled their fall sports in general. I know there’s a couple of agencies that have canceled their fall sports in general. My opinion is I think we definitely cancel football.

“It’s a physical sport,” he continued. “The physicality of the sport — I think other agencies are going to start to follow. Now, you may have some that take the risk, but I don’t know if we should take the risk based on that particular sport. Baseball and softball are different. Football is just too much physical contact. Sort of like basketball, there’s just too much physical contact. I definitely suggest we should cancel football.”

Shortly after Turner’s comments, the commission voted unanimously to cancel football and cheer activities for 2020.

The future of fall baseball and softball seasons was briefly examined. Turner suggested it was possible to incorporate social distancing while playing both sports if “creative” enough.

“I think it’s a possibility that we could do it … but I’m still not sure with just the COVID-19 numbers,” Turner said. "They just continue to rise and that, personally, alarms me, and what I don’t want to do is bring that into our park and something happen.”

Turner said the commission could look at shortening the fall baseball and softball schedules as well as limiting the number of players allowed in the dugout and inside the park as ways to help slow the spread of illness.

Because baseball and softball signups wouldn’t be held until the end of August, the commission voted to table the matter until next month’s meeting. 

However, there will not be another recreation commission meeting.

The Newton County Board of Commissioners also met Tuesday night and adopted a resolution to dissolve the recreation commission, effective immediately. 

For its last item of business, the commission finalized a repayment schedule requiring certain employees to pay back bonuses over 18 months with 1% interest to be paid on the 19th month. The bonuses, totaling approximately $28,000, were first approved in December but later deemed illegal by the county in February.