Park now under town supervision

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, April 15, 2009

MONTICELLO – Mac Dale Memorial Park has a new coach handlingday-to-day operations and management of the Dixie Youth baseballleague.

The future of the park was assured late last month when theDavis family, and retired Brookhaven accountant Roger Boyd, donatedthe park’s two baseball fields, two press boxes, concession stand,meeting room and kitchen and all maintenance equipment to the townof Monticello.

A ceremony marking the change in ownership was held April 4 atthe park. Mayor David Nichols read a town resolution proclaimingthe Davis family hometown heroes and opening day of Dixie Youthbaseball as Jimmie and Zelda Davis Family Opening Day.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Dist. 91 Rep. Bob Evans also read House Resolution No. 111commending the life and legacy of Jimmie Ray Davis. The resolutionwas passed during the current legislative session.

The first pitch at the park under town management was thrown bythe first pitcher on the mound for the opening day’s games.

“The Davis family is all about the kids,” said Nichols. “Theywanted the kids to have that honor.”

Spearheaded by Jimmie and Zelda Davis, the Davis family ran thepark and the Dixie Youth baseball league that played there for morethan four decades. In 1993, the high school field was named JimmieDavis Park in honor of those efforts.

Their sons, Tony, Craig “Bowie” and Miles Davis, literally grewup at the park.

“It wasn’t an easy decision,” Bowie Davis said about turning thepark over to the town. “That park has been home to the three Davissons all our lives.”

However, the future of the park came into question followingJimmie Davis’ death in June. The Davis family resolved to continueto run the park, but did not have as much time to devote to it asthey felt it warranted, Davis said.

Tony Davis is kept busy with his duties as the Lawrence Countysuperintendent of education, Bowie is a high school U.S. historyteacher and assistant coach of the school’s baseball team and Mileslives on the Gulf Coast.

“We simply could not devote as much time and effort into it asmy parents did over the years,” Bowie Davis said.

The family then made the decision to give their interests in theproperty to the town of Monticello. Boyd, who held half-interest inthe property, also gave his interest to the town.

“It was just the right thing to do,” Bowie Davis said. “We feltthe park would be in good hands now. I’m still heavily involved init. I’m still coaching a (Dixie Youth) team and heavily involved inhelping to keep it up.”

Davis said the family felt confident in handing over the parkbecause of the town’s investment in hiring a full-time parksdirector a few years ago to manage Lawrence County Sports Complexand Atwood Water Park.

Roger Boyd and Tony, Bowie and Zelda Davis met with Nichols andParks Director Kenny Graves in March to determine if the town wasinterested in leasing the park or accepting it as a donation. Theironly stipulation was that it would remain in use as a park foryouth baseball.

However, Bowie Davis is the Ward Three alderman for the town,which made it impossible for the town to pursue leasing optionsbecause of the personal financial gain clause. The family decidedto donate the park instead.

“Even though it was a donation and no money changed hands, Istill had to recuse myself from any dealings with this as analderman,” Davis said.

The town has plans to further enhance the park, Nicholssaid.

“Everything down there now was funded by the family or fromleague proceeds,” the mayor said. “One of the positives of the cityowning it is that the city and county can now use governmentfunding to enhance it.”

One enhancement has already been made, Nichols said. DistrictOne Supervisor Steve Garrett paved the circle entrance driveleading into the park prior to the April 4 ceremony.

The town has other enhancements in mind for the park, but willhave to wait until after the town election to determine which theycan afford to fund.

“I know the intentions of the board is to enhance the park, butwe can’t spend unbudgeted money during an election year so thoseplans are not firm,” Nichols said.