Local Boy Scouts paid honor to the longtime director of the Effingham County Recreation and Parks last Wednesday.
Clarence Morgan accepted the Golden Eagle Award, in his usual reluctant manner, from the local Scouts.
“I’m here because over the last 50 years I’ve had great people around me,” he said. “At every level, I’ve had great, great people around me.”
Former NFL player and former Effingham County commission chairman Dusty Zeigler said Morgan has been “the face of the recreation department” and that he was thankful to Morgan.
“He has represented our county very well,” said Zeigler. “Other rec department heads come to coach; he’s a guy they trust. “I raised my children in the rec department and I’m proud of that. I’ve enjoyed it.”
Zeigler said he enjoyed watching “Coach” referee between Rob Collins and Zeigler’s own father-in-law, Tommy Arden.
“He’s got a knack for inciting people’s enthusiasm and passion,” Zeigler said. “He takes two opposing forces and makes something productive out of it. I learned a lot watching him.”
Not long after he became commission chairman in 2009, Zeigler got a visit from Morgan. Morgan said there were three companies after him and he’d like to get a raise.
“I said, ‘maybe we can work something out,’” Zeigler recalled.
Then the new chairman asked what those three companies were.
“He said, ‘the phone company, the water company and the electric company,’” Zeigler said.
Zeigler added that Morgan strives to make sure every kid who wants to take part can, and even the adults who want recreational activities also have opportunities.
“He finds a way to remove the obstacles so that every kid who wants to be involved can be involved,” he said. “He keeps all ages in the county involved, things that are outside the sports world but still bring the community together.”
In researching for background and vignettes on Morgan, Zeigler asked about Morgan’s service on the YMCA and United Way.
“They couldn’t say enough good things about his community involvement,” he said. “He’s a kind-hearted good man, and he really cares about Effingham County.”
Morgan noted he was surprised by the award.
“It’s a great, great honor. I did not expect it,” he said. “I could not have been blessed more. I was a shy, young boy from Shawnee. I did not like to speak in front of people, barely survived Georgia Southern. My first year of teaching, I was the most shy PE teacher you’d ever seen in your life.”
Morgan was named assistant principal the next year and athletic director at Central Junior High School.
“The Good Lord turned a switch for me and put me where I’m at today,” he said.
The breakfast also was a fundraiser for local Scouts. One of eight Eagle Scouts in the district is from Effingham, said Ty LaValley, and they provided 2,800 community service hours for local non-profits.
There are seven Cub Scout packs, six Boy Scout troops and two co-ed Venture groups.
“The heart of Scouting is the individual unit,” he said.
Scouts also have begun a program at the Effingham Y at no cost to Scouts and there are plans to create a nursing Explorer post at the Effingham College and Career Academy. The cost for a Scout’s activities each year averages $150.
“No boy will be turned away from Scouting for financial reasons,” LaValley said. “The money we raise is vital for Scouting to continue.”
Pledges collected at the breakfast topped $8,100, which was more than 160 percent of the $5,000 goal.