Park opens to community acclaim

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Columbia County opened its new home for youth soccer Saturday, and officials say the long-awaited Blanchard Woods Park rivals public recreation facilities across the Southeast.

Kole Richardson (center), a 99 Patriots Boys soccer player from Martinez, splits three defenders during the first game at the new Blanchard Woods Park in Evans. The $5.1 million first phase opened Saturday and includes five soccer fields and a running track.  J. Scott Trubey/Staff
J. Scott Trubey/Staff
Kole Richardson (center), a 99 Patriots Boys soccer player from Martinez, splits three defenders during the first game at the new Blanchard Woods Park in Evans. The $5.1 million first phase opened Saturday and includes five soccer fields and a running track.

The 40-acre, $5.1 million first phase of the park off Blanchard Road in Evans includes five soccer fields and an NCAA-approved cross country course.

Once the park is completed in several years, it will play host to all county recreation league soccer games and many other outdoor events.

"This park is really a fabulous facility," said county recreation manager Charlie Beale. "I think it will compete with any in the Southeast."

Plans originally called for at least 12 soccer fields at the park, but community and leisure services director Barry Smith said negotiations are under way to purchase land for six more fields.

"The best is yet to come," Mr. Smith said of the park, which was funded by special purpose local option sales tax money.

Blanchard Woods will also become the home course for the Augusta State University cross country team.

The school's athletics director, Clint Bryant, said it is his goal to hold NCAA regional and national championship tournaments at the park.

"This is a tremendous, tremendous feather in the cap of this community," he said.

Commissioner Lee Anderson said Blanchard Woods will be a place where children will learn character and sportsmanship.

"There will be a lot of great children molded here on these fields," Mr. Anderson said.

Kaitlin Michals, a 13-year-old Patriots soccer club player who will have her first opportunity to test the new fields today, said she is excited about the new park.

"I like it. I think it's better than Patriots Park," she said. "I think it will improve (soccer in the county) and get people to join soccer clubs."

Reach J. Scott Trubey at 706-868-1222, ext. 109, or jeffery.trubey@augustachronicle.com.

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chatter90210
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chatter90210 09/16/07 - 09:01 am
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Oh joy, more soccer, which

Oh joy, more soccer, which means more little brats with parents that are brats! How about a better facility for the rest of the sports in our growing county. How about a baseball tournament or maybe a football tournament. Enjoy your soccer field you little nerds!

fd1962
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fd1962 09/16/07 - 09:14 am
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Looks nice! Now I'll have
Unpublished

Looks nice! Now I'll have BOTH frisbee golf and soccer to contemplate as I build character and sportsmanship bumping along Columbia County's remaining unpaved roads, which were ALREADY paid for in 2001 (!) by special purpose local option bond issues.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 09/16/07 - 09:27 am
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...... I hope you don't have

...... I hope you don't have kids. your comment was pathetic at best!!

dxharms
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dxharms 09/16/07 - 09:53 am
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will there be any trails?

will there be any trails?

me1
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me1 09/16/07 - 11:50 am
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Thats great about the park,

Thats great about the park, but what about the traffic headaches the county just formed nto only getting out of the park but turning onto Washington Rd or Hereford Farm Rd. I thought these things get planned out better but with whats in office now I can understand why they dont.Its about Money.

evansmom
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evansmom 09/16/07 - 02:03 pm
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Give me a break. It's a new

Give me a break. It's a new facility for the youth of Columbia County. Does there always have to be a complaint whenever an article like this comes out? Get over it and think about our children. As for you, ......., have you been to Patriot's Park? That is your baseball and softball tournament. Have you heard of Martinez-Evans Little League? Do you even have children in sports? How dare you call the parents and the children "brats" because they play soccer as opposed to baseball or football. Get an education.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 09/16/07 - 02:30 pm
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Well put evansmom!!

Well put evansmom!!

As It Is
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As It Is 09/16/07 - 06:22 pm
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What a fabulous addition to

What a fabulous addition to our county. Read the article on Richmond County Youth, Gangs and Violence and what is now having to be spent just to provide additional opportunities to the youth to keep them out of trouble. I would much rather see our county spending money on parks, recreation and youth activities instead of youth detention centers and jails. Our youth deserve the best opportunities in life and a need activities to keep them active, teach them sportsmanship, allow them to be part of a team, and hopefully to get them in better shape. This park along with the others in Coulumbia County will pay off in the long run as well as providing great opportunities for the youth of today and tomorrow. Blanchard Woods park is a much needed and very valuable asset to our community and it's expansion in the near future will mean even more positive opportunites for our youth.

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