Tifton Gazette

Local News

June 2, 2009

Irwin County to take over operation of Jeff Davis Park

TIFTON — The state won’t fund Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site in Irwin County, but the site will continue to be open to visitors. Irwin County will again take over management, operation and funding of the site.

Joey Whitley, the chairman of the Irwin County Board of Commissioners, said Tuesday afternoon that the state will relinquish the park to the county on June 18 and the county will begin the park’s operation on June 19.

“I don’t think we will skip a beat and we will continue to provide services for Irwin County residents and others from around the state who enjoy visiting the site,” Whitley said.

A public forum will be held at 7 p.m. June 11 at the Irwin County Court House, Whitley said. He said anyone interested in the park is encouraged to attend.

State parks around the state have been anxiously awaiting word on which parks will remain open and which ones will close. The Georgia Agrirama in Tifton, the state’s official museum for agriculture, was told recently that its state allocations for the 2010 fiscal year would be reduced 31 percent. Two dozen teachers and interpreters scattered across the 95-acre site will be terminated. The Agrirama’s budget was reduced by 15 percent earlier this year.

The Irwin County park had cut two staff positions and was operating with Paul Bradshaw, park ranger, and one other ranger. Bradshaw, who has managed the park for 19 years, said Tuesday that his co-worker, who has worked at the park for five years, was being re-assigned by the state to work in Okefenokee State Park.

“I’m hoping the county will hire me because I know the site really well,” Bradshaw said. “I know a lot of people are losing their jobs and this is heartbreaking to me because I’ve been a loyal employee. I don’t want to see the park close.”

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