THOMSON, Ga. (WJBF) – Just three months ago, the softball complex tower at Sweetwater Park was destroyed. But now, it’s turning into one of the many things people in the area want to see.
Like the park, the tower has brought good times to the people of Thomson for years. But in recent months, age has caught up to the old structure.
“That building meant a lot to a lot of people, and it also has a lot of memories. We didn’t just want to destroy those memories or want to get rid of those memories, but at the same time we wanted to provide new memories moving forward,” said Parks and Rec Director Trevor Welcher.
So after demolishing it over the summer, the new tower is coming up. This is part of a $2.2 million project that has been in the works since 2019.
When complete, the tower will include a new concession stand, lights, and office spaces for scorekeepers. The scorekeepers will be able to communicate with umpires on the field thanks to these spaces.
But as the park is looking towards the future, Welcher says they also want to honor the past. “We want those old tournaments to come back, we’re just trying to bring back the old feel with a newer, improved building.”
Jimmy Mims has been working at Sweetwater Park since he was 15 years old. He is the fourth generation of his family to be involved in the park. He says these renovations will help bring families and friends together for years to come.
“Those same kids that people see on Friday night came through here. The parents that cheer for those kids on Friday night came through here. The parents of the parents that cheer for those kids on Friday night came through here. So it’s a generational thing that keeps growing, and growing, and growing,” said Mims.
Mims also adds everything going on is so important, because of the lack of outlets for people in McDuffie County. “This county does not have a lot of activities going on. So to have this park renovated, and watch not only kids go through–but the kids of other kids and generations to go through–it’s producing a family environment, and filtering into other communities as well.”
Welcher says that’s exactly the type of environment he wants to create with these renovations. “That’s what we want to get back too–truly providing a family type of environment. And I think with these improvements, not only to the park but to the community in itself, they’re going to be able to truly get back to that feeling, and invite other families in to enjoy their internal family.”
In terms of the future of Sweetwater Park, there are several other projects that Welcher says are in the works. “As soon as we finish with this, we’re working on plans right now improve our baseball complex. We also want to improve our playground equipment here, and we also may possibly be adding a soccer complex in the near future.”
Welcher also says the Recreation Department is looking to improve the score tower at the football fields.
The Sweetwater Activity Center will also see renovations in the upcoming years, but Welcher says the department is taking everything one project at a time.
“The future is certainly bright here in the Thomson and McDuffie County area, but we want to make sure we do things right, and take our time in the planning phase,” said Welcher.
Welcher adds it’s a collective effort from him, County Manager David Crawley, PIO Jason Smith, and the community that is making all of this happen.
The tower for the softball complex is expected to be completed by early 2024. There is not an exact date, but Welcher says it should be up and running by the time softball season begins.