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County won't help fund Conococheague LL trip

August 04, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WILLIAMSPORT -- The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday turned down a request for funding to help with travel expenses as Conococheague Little League's 11- and 12-year-old All-Star team prepares to advance to the Mid-Atlantic Regional tournament in Bristol, Conn.

Conococheague Little League President Walter Williams asked the commissioners for funding to help the players' families pay for gas and lodging, saying picking up the tab for high-priced motel rooms in Bristol would quickly sap the league's savings.

Two of the four commissioners present said they would not support the request, citing fairness and more pressing needs elsewhere in the county.

The response was a change from last summer, when the commissioners came under fire for providing $10,000 to help send the Federal Little League 11-12 All-Stars to the same tournament.

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Commissioner Kristin B. Aleshire, who was out of the room when last year's vote was taken, said the county should not grant such requests unless it has a policy in place to ensure all youth organizations are treated fairly.

The commissioners have turned down requests to support academic, agricultural and technological teams, Aleshire said.

"I continue to believe that if we're going to go down this road that the board did last year, that there has to be some process to it; there has to be some fairness to it," he said.

Commissioner William J. Wivell, who voted against last year's contribution to Federal Little League, said he couldn't justify contributing funds when there were so many more pressing needs in the community.

"My issue has always been taxpayer funding for this type of event," Wivell said.

Providing funding for families' travel expenses could also discourage them from carpooling, sharing rooms or finding other creative ways to make the trip less expensive, Wivell said.

Commissioner James F. Kercheval was absent from the first half of Tuesday's meeting because of an economic development event, leaving only four commissioners, so the two refusals were enough to prevent the request from moving forward.

The Conococheague 11-12 All-Stars earned a spot at the regional tournament Friday when they won the state tournament for their age group in Waldorf, Md.

The regional tournament starts Friday in Bristol and the regional champ moves on to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa., beginning Aug. 21.

Williams told the commissioners that the league spent $20,000 of its $43,000 savings on travel expenses for the state tournament.

For the regional tournament, a dormitory is provided for the players, coaches and managers, but Williams said he would like to help the players' families afford to travel with their children.

Rooms cost more than $100 a night, so for 13 families, lodging could add up to more than $1,300 a night, Williams said. If the team keeps winning, the players and their families could be in town for up to 10 days, he said.

The league needs to reserve $10,000 to $15,000 of its funds to pay for uniforms and other start-up costs next season, Williams said.

The players have raised about $3,100 for travel expenses through fundraising efforts, he said.

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