RINCON — A notable figure was missing from Friday’s ribbon cutting at McCall Park on Friday. His footprints were all over the renovated facility, however.
The Effingham County Board of Commissioners took a moment to honor Clarence Morgan, the longtime director of Effingham County Recreation and Sports Management, before unveiling numerous enhancements and additions at the park at 5450 McCall Road. Morgan died Jan. 5.
“Clarence really did set the standard for recreational programs in this county and one of the benefits of that was the Clarence E. Morgran Recreation Complex (in Springfield),” County Manager Tim Callanan said. “While Clarence Morgan the person set the standards for the recreation programs in this county, the Clarence Morgan Complex really set the standards for what we should expect for facilities in this county.”
The Clarence Morgan Complex features a state-of-the-art gym, playground, walking track, multiple athletic fields and other amenities.
“We took that model and said, ‘Let’s apply it to every park in the (county) system,’ and this is really the first of many,” Callanan said. “We are so lucky in this county to have a citizenry that realizes the benefits of recreation in this community and the importance of having facilities for children to play on — so much so that they approved a (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax), not once but just recently reupped and our goal, my goal, is to make sure that those dollars are put to work as efficiently and as quickly as possible to get those facilities up to this level.”
McCall Road improvements include adding a multi-purpose field (for soccer, lacrosse or football), a full-sized outdoor basketball court, a big and little dog park (separate areas for big and little dogs), a 1/3-mile paved walking trail and a new paved parking lot. Renovations were made to the baseball field, bathrooms, pavilion and sign. Plans to add a new playground this year are also in the works.
“This is great,” said new South Effingham baseball coach Jesse Osborne, who used to trample through woods to play at the facility when he was a boy.
In addition to SPLOST, the improvements were funded by generous donations from OmniTRAX and Keith Sapp and Lori Sapp. The Sapps’ gift was made in honor of their son Jake, who died in a 2018 vehicle accident at the age of 18.
“We are so thankful for citizens like this who love Effingham,” Effingham County Board of Commissioners Chairman Wesley Corbitt said.
Corbitt and other commissioners joined the Sapps as they unveiled a photo of a sign that sits at the park’s entrance. It says “McCall Park” at the top with “Jake Sapp Field” underneath.
At the end of the ceremony, Keith Sapp thanked everyone who worked on the project, including Morgan.
“My wife and I wanted to do something for the community to remember Jake,” he said. “We appreciate everybody coming out.”
Afterward, Sapp said and Jake played baseball at McCall Park many times.
“I’ve never seen anybody who wanted to play so many sports in my life,” he said.