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Anderson Independent-Mail from Anderson, South Carolina • 4

Anderson, South Carolina
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a4local Sunday11611wwwindependentmaiLcom 1 big plans include a Miracle i 4 i- 4 1 SEFTONIPOCK Independent Mail A youth football team with the Pelzer Recreation Department practices Plans to add new fields to benefit the growing needs could include a Miracle Field for people with disabilities the Pelzer Gym which dates to 1922 The ceiling was fall ipg in and dark paneling covered the walls Now the wood floors shine Walls are painted a light tan The town received a $2000 grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to pay for a historic preservation plan that will help guide leaders on how they can begin saving some of the oldest buildings such as Drug Store which was a popular spot for teens in the liMOs and the Old Bailey Esso Station built in 1925 About a month ago the Pelzer Heritage Commission conducted its second annual Pelzer Reunion which brought a couple of hundred people to the town With the use of grant money streetscape construction will began in February 2012 said Blake Sanders who lives in West Pelzer and was born in Pelzer Progress has also been made on making the Mirade Field a reality A Qemson University graduate and Sanders who works as an architect for Seamon Whiteside and Associates in Greenville have completed designs for a 17-acre park that would include walking trails three baseball fields and a Mirade Field The designs were completed at no charge to the town Sanders said He said Jonathan Williams graduated from Clemson University in 2010 Williams worked on the plans as part of his thesis project did fee Miracle Fields in Mt Pleasant and Sanders said just see that as an opportunity to give back in an area that we have some expertise So the town has the plans and according to the mayor also has the land The town owns about 150 acres in Pelzer Ninety-four acres make up the lagoons which are used to treat the waste-water But those lagoons will be closed in the next year Davis said Work could begin on the parks in 2013 if the town can find a way to raise fee estimated $200000 needed tobuild a Mirade Field Bosch has already sent the town a $500 check for the project Davis said already thinking about different fundraisers that can be held for the project Tam ready to get it started Davis said want to build the parks and the recreation program so if I retire those fields will still be there The ballfields we have now have been up feere for 100 and to be proud of what Pelzer did for Fields busting at the fences Pelzer spans less than 1 square mile but it has one of Anderson last remaining public pools a large sports field a tennis court a park with playground equipment and a gym in its town limits Even with all of that at its disposal the sports fields are frill The town's recreation director BJ Thompkins said they need more room In this sports season 200 children have signed up to play basketball 92 are participating in the cheerleading teams 100 are participating in the football leagues and so far about 170 children are signed up for the baseball leagues Thompkins said Those numbers are up from the 20 to 25 that played baseball in 2006 just as Thompkins was hired as a part-time employee for the town Children play baseball and football and practice cheerleading on Bill Hopkins Field For their basketball games they rotate around using the Pelzer Gym and five local churches for practices For competitions they use the Palmetto High School gym in Williamston Thompkins said have so many hie said hard to get practice times and everything love to start a softball league and a soccer league We just can't accommodate them because we have enough A Messing a curse Those trophies in the glass cases highlight sports history So do names such as Evelyn Jordan Ed Chaplin and Junior Wooten Jordan is in the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame for helping lead a women's basketball team there to three national ti- ties She played at Pelzer -High School when the team won the state championship in 1942 Chaplin played baseball in Pelzer and went on to play major league baseball from 1920 until 1922 Wooten also left Pelzer to play major league baseball in 1947 and 194a ago Pelzer was the place to be for Thompkins said it went downhill It kind of dried A lot of things in the town dried up when the cotton mills along the Saluda River dosed Pelzer was largely agricultural until Francis Pelzer and other investors moved from Charleston to open the Pelzer Manufao- BY CHARMAINE SMITH-MIIES Independent Mail mileaca 2801260 Four glass cases inside the Pelzer Gym hold dozens of sports trophies dating back as far as the 1920s But those cases aren't big enough to bold all the trophies earned by this town Dozens more trophies sit in the basement along steps that overlook a large swimming pool can't remember a time when I come in here and play" Brad West said while standing in that lobby was always in here when I was He pointed to an end of the lobby where new restrooms are now When he was a child a ping-pong table stood back them A pool table stood in the middle of the lobby The tiled pool in the basement was hill of water that the children could swim in all day for a dime West grew up in the Pelzer West Pelzer area Now he lives just a few miles away in Williamston watched Pelzer change from being a thriving mill town to seeing the mills dose people move and mill buildings come down salvaged far their parts Census data shows that the town which encompasses three streets and a couple of went from having 97 residents in 2000 to 89 in 2010 The indoor pool is empty now The ping-pong and pool tables are gone But on a recent afternoon children shot hoops in this gym as their parents signed them up for the town's basketball league A sign posted Just beyond the Williamston Town Hall advertises Pelzer's recreation opportunities inviting parents to come and sign their children up for one of the town's sports leagues More than 550 children are on the rosters for the town's Little League sports programs story unique Every small town that built up around a textile mill and a railroad track Is struggling to come back to life now that the mills are long gone If this town on the border of Anderson and Greenville counties can find the money Mayor Kenneth Davis said town leaders want to build more sports fields including one that peopl with disabilities could use reason I ran for mayor was because I wanted to get recreation back in Pelzer" Davis said kept me busy and kept me flom doing things I when I was younger I want our kids to look back '-T OntheWeb Photos of Pelzer recreation programs are at wwwlndependentmailcom needs to stand out on the map again A Mirade Field is a sports field that can be used by those adults and children who have disabilities Currently the closest Miracle Field is in Mauldin The idea to bring a Mirade Field to Pelzer was He was inspired by his uncle and a Pblzer resident both of whom have Down syndrome have a place Davis said not fair for them To me every little dream is to play Davis met with other local leaders indudlng interim Anderson County administrator Rusty Burns and Sandy Hanebrink the Anderson Committee on Disability chairwoman about the proposal earlier this year Burns and Hanebrink said they both support the idea and will do what they can to help make the field a reality I lanebrink said she is helping Pdzer officials identify grants to apply for and sponsorships to seek bringing in a field like this not only does it provide those opportunities it also provides aware 1 ness for the entire commu-nity that those with disabilities can do whatever it is that they want to Hanebrink said What makes a Miracle Field different from other sports fields is its surface Davis said if one is built in Pelzer it would likely have a surface similar to that of a tennis court Hanebrink said a Mirade Field can also be used for the entire community for T-ball leagues dodge ball and festivals The idea fix the Mirade Fields started In Conyers Ga in the 1990s Now there are 240 Mirade Leagues across North America with more than 200000 children and young adults participating in those leagues Hanebrink who is disabled has played on the Miracle Field in Mauldin Just ftin to go out and have a good Hanebrink said great to look at what you can do instead of looking at what you A miracle is needed Davis knows that asking for $200000 for a sports field be easy in the current tough economy But driven by his vision for this community that he has lived in all his life main thing is our Davis said are our I buoyed too by some of recent progress About two years ago the town used about $12000 from its budget to renovate turing Co on the banks of the Saluda River in 1880 and 1881 It took crews eight years to build three mill buildings With the mills came schools the Pelzer gym houses people and money As late as the 1980s Duke Energy paid the town $65000 to $70000 in franchise fees because of the mills town officials said The mills paid the town about $30000 to $40000 to the town for recreation The mill officials built the outdoor pool that the town still uses Now those franchise fees still contribute to the budget but they total about $6800 a year mills they ftinded all of the recreation the part-time administrator Heather Holcombe mills pretty much paid for everything When they closed all that went away We have a tax base to fluid Pelzer finding its place When the mills left town money the only thing that went with them The cotton mills are what put Pdzer on the map So when the mills dosed the town lost its identity you use SC 8 as a cut-through you really know Pdzer said Blake Sanders a West Pelzer Town Council member Pelzer has stuff going Mayor Kenneth Davis is hoping a iracle Field will be the thing thatfee town.

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