UPDATE: Youth baseball tournament in Bleckley County canceled

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COCHRAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – UPDATE (5/22 8:15 p.m.) – A youth baseball tournament scheduled for Sunday and Monday will not take place after all.

Clark Brockman with Top Gun Baseball, the organization that planned to use Cochran-Bleckley County Recreation Department’s facilities for the tournament, said in a Facebook post that the tournament was “suddenly cancelled.”

Here’s the full statement:

“This is just a statement. Please don’t turn into a political debate.

Best of my knowledge.

The Cochran Recreation Dept wanted to host a tournament for the benefit of the community. They were within there legal rights to do so and had conformation from others. The tournament was going forward but was suddenly cancelled because of pressures not because of legality. We were excited to get baseball jumped started based on what was told to us. When that changed we willing cancelled the tournament, not that we have much choice. The rec department worked very very hard to put this on as well as us, based on the knowledge that we were allowed to play. When we were told we could no longer play we followed those orders. Sorry if this caused anyone any headaches. We simply wanted to help get baseball back. We all felt the guidelines we had in place far exceeded what was required and were fully prepared to make sure they were followed. in our goal is to start playing baseball not to create political rift.

PS Word is Florida is now open to baseball tournaments. don’t know the details but that is a good thing for teams if so. Again it’s not about politics it’s about playing. If you feel comfortable by all means get in your car and go play ball.”

41NBC reached out to the South Central Health District, which said local elected officials made the final decision to shut down the tournament.

The SCHD said the decision was ultimately up to the rec department’s board.

We reached out to Chan Jones, the chairman of the rec department’s board, and we have not heard back.

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Original story:

COCHRAN, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The Cochran-Bleckley County Recreation Department is hosting a travel league baseball tournament during the Memorial Day weekend.

28 teams from counties from across the state are coming to the county on Sunday and Monday to compete in the tournament.

Parents in the area have raised questions about the health and safety of the tournament amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Holly Wood, whose son plays on a rec league team, said she’s not letting him play in the tournament.

“It’s not about us, it’s about everyone else,” said Wood. “We’ve been trying to stay home and stick to the social distancing as much as we can so it just didn’t seem like a smart move for everyone else.”

Wood said her son wants to play, but she doesn’t think it is safe.

“Even if you take all the bleachers out and you have a parent per child, there’s not a way to social distance up to 6 feet, there’s just not,” Wood said. “I mean you’re going to be lining the fence and then some.”

To ease the minds of parents and baseball fans, the rec department is taking safety measures. Staff put out hand sanitizer, removed bleachers, and shut down playgrounds.

However, Cochran Mayor Billy Yeomans said he is still not comfortable with the tournament.

“We don’t feel that this is good for the community or the kids that will be playing with all these people coming from all over the state, and we are trying to just get it stopped,” said Yeomans.

Mayor Yeomans said he fears the tournament will increase the number of COVID-19 cases in Bleckley County.

“When you’re bringing in kids from all over the state of Georgia to one location and their families with this COVID-19,” said Yeomans. “We’ve been fortunate here we haven’t had any deaths, and I think we’re up in the 30s now with cases but we’ve been fortunate.”

The rec department refused to comment on the situation.

Cochran City Council met Thursday night to discuss the tournament. During the meeting, Mayor Yeomans read a letter from the rec department’s lawyer, which said the tournament doesn’t violate the state’s executive order on reopening Georgia.

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Peyton Lewis is a 20-year-old reporter from Stockbridge, Georgia. She graduated in December of 2019 with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She found a love for reporting after receiving a video camera for her 8th birthday. She and her friends would make mock newscasts in her backyard other creative content. Peyton's love for writing and creating videos pushed her to pursue journalism. In order to kick-start her dream of being a reporter, she left the traditional high school experience at the age of 16 to attend Gordon State College as a full-time student. She graduated with her Associate's degree two weeks before graduating from high school. Previously, Peyton worked as a news intern for 11 Alive in Atlanta, a radio intern for the Joy FM, and a reporter/ technical manager for Grady Newsource. Peyton dreams to become an investigative reporter that leaves a lasting impact on the world around her. She loves Disney, dogs, spicy food, musicals, and her family. Peyton also enjoys reading, watching movies, cheering on the Dawgs, and going on new adventures.