Staff reports



TIFTON -- The Georgia State Park and Historic Sites division of the Department of Natural Resources has honored Reed Bingham State Park for "Best Year-Round Programming" for 2004.

"It is a testament to the hard work of Chet Powell, the park staff and our commitment to providing quality services that made this award possible," Park Manager Paul Bradshaw said. Bradshaw received the award on behalf of the park staff at the Annual Park Managers Conference at Unicoi State Park.

"It's amazing that Reed Bingham did so well considering that the park doesn't have a full-time person in charge of programming," Bradshaw said. "Chet works in the position six to nine months out of the year, but he does a better job than somebody who works in that job year-round."

The award came as a surprise to workers at the park, which is located on the Colquitt-Cook county line at the Little River. "We do put a lot of work into it," said Powell of the park's interpretive naturalists, "but when you consider that we don't have some of the draws of the bigger parks, it was a nice surprise."

According to Powell, the objective of the park's programming is "to educate and to allow the maximum enjoyment of the natural and historical resources of Reed Bingham State Park."

Reed Bingham recorded nearly 25,000 visitors to its programs last year, Powell said. That doesn't include campers, picnicking, swimming, boaters and others who use the facilities but don't participate in the special events. The park's variety of programming has ranged from pontoon boat rides up Little River to wildlife shows, from live bands to kids' fishing rodeos. The bigger events include Memorial Day Weekend, Independence Day weekend, the Fall Festival and the Easter Sunrise Service and Egg Hunt.

Powell was quick to credit the Friends of Reed Bingham State Park (FORB), the volunteers who sponsor many of the park's special events, including the annual fireworks show. "Without the Friends group, I wouldn't be able to do half of the programming that I'm now doing."

The group is comprised of local individuals and families who volunteer at the park. They provide many services to park visitors, but they also have activities exclusively for FORB members. The group meets the first Thursday of each month at the park and meetings are open to the public.

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