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Youth baseball team seeks county funds for World Series trip

July 24, 2012|By ANDREW SCHOTZ | andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN — The manager of a youth baseball team asked the Washington County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday to help pay for the team’s trip to the PONY World Series in Fullerton, Calif.

Manager Dave Barr didn’t ask for a specific amount, but said expenses for the players’ families have added up.

The team won a tournament one weekend in Boardman, Ohio, then an East Zone title in Cranberry Township, Pa., the following weekend.

The Hagerstown team, made up of players from Washington County, is scheduled to play a team from Mexico in its opening-round World Series game on Friday, Barr said.

Some commissioners said they weren’t ready to commit to giving money to the team.

Commissioner Jeffrey A. Cline asked Barr to submit records of expenses the team has incurred so far.

Commissioner Ruth Anne Callaham urged Barr to follow the county’s procedure for nonprofits seeking county funding. The county entertains those requests through its Office of Community Grant Management.

If the baseball team circumvented the process and received money from a direct request to the commissioners, it would teach the players “that they can sidestep the policies of their local government,” she said.

If the team makes a written request for help, she said, she will “stand shoulder to shoulder” with them and help raise private money for travel costs, but she is reluctant to spend tax dollars.

Walter Williams, the grandfather of a player on the team, told the commissioners the expenses accumulate quickly and with little notice. “You don’t know you’re going to California two days ago,” he said.

The Hagerstown team defeated an Albany, N.Y., team on Sunday to advance to the World Series.

Barr — who is not related to Commissioner John F. Barr — said in an interview after making his pitch that the PONY League will pay for players to fly to California and stay in hotels. But if parents want to go, they’re on their own.

If families can’t go to a once-in-a-lifetime event — the first time Hagerstown has advanced to the PONY-13 World Series — “that would be heartbreaking,” Barr said.

Many families are “tapped out” after traveling to two earlier tournaments, he said.

Past requests by local Little Leagues for county help with travel expenses have sparked debate.

Last year, the commissioners voted 3-2 to give $5,000 to Conococheague Little League to help offset expenses for playing in a regional tournament in Bristol, Conn.

Callaham and Commissioner William B. McKinley voted no. Commissioners John F. Barr, Jeffrey A. Cline and Terry L. Baker voted yes.

Callaham noted at the time that the county hadn’t yet finalized a procedure for evaluating financial requests from nonprofit groups. The procedure is now in place.

The county gave money to other local Little Leagues for similar requests in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

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