UNION COUNTY — During Tuesday evening’s county council meeting, Miracle League of Union County (MLUC) Board Chair Amy Austin presented council with an update on the league’s activities, and delivered positive news for the group in the process.
“Only one year after our county council agreed to donate Field No. 1 at Timken Sports Complex, we, The Miracle League of Union County, are ready to tear down the old and build up the new,” Austin said, attempting to hold back her emotions. “To date, we have received or have concrete commitments totaling 96 percent of the $250,000 we set out to raise in April 2012.”
That 96 percent comes to $233,788.31, which leaves the MLUC only $16,211.69 short of its goal for the transformation of the field at Timken Sports Complex into an all-inclusive field for adults and children of all abilities and disabilities, featuring a low-impact surface that can accommodate walkers, wheelchairs and crutches, as well as cushion falls that cannot be prevented.
Austin mentioned the exhibition game hosted by MLUC in April 2011, and she reminded County Supervisor Tommy Sinclair of what he said before throwing the first pitch.
“It took y’all six years to build a field,” Austin said, quoting Sinclair. “We’ll have one in less than that. You can write it down.”
Austin said major fund-raising efforts were kicked off by Buffalo Seafood on April 30, 2012 and have come into the present through partners such as the Ray Tanner Fundraiser, Timken Family Foundation grants, Union County Chicken Stew fundraiser, a City of Union grant, a fundraiser at Tubozzz, sales at Christmas Open House, an upcoming fundraiser at La Fogata on March 21, and ongoing efforts from the Arthur State Bank Junior Board and Miracles from Kosovo.
In other business, Union County Tourism Commission Executive Director Will Boyles presented an update regarding tourism activities in Union. Boyles said the county has an abundance of tourism resources including agriculture and natural resources, historic sites and sports opportunities.
Boyles pointed out the natural beauty of Sumter National Forest — which has over 165,000 acres for activities such as camping, hiking and hunting — as well as that of John D. Long Lake and the Broad River in Lockhart. Boyles mentioned the Town of Lockhart’s recent initiative and grant funding which will create various recreational activities on the river.
Boyles said the commission is currently working on an eight-page guide which will feature outdoor attractions in Union County. The guide will be displayed throughout the state in various locations including welcome centers.
Boyles also discussed Union County’s historic sites including battlefields, plantations and churches.
“Interpretation of the historical significance is important,” Boyles said, encouraging those in attendance to express pride regarding the county in which they live.
Boyles also referred to the county as a sportsman’s paradise, mentioning GNCC Big Buck Racing, Timken Sports Complex, Union County Dragway and Buffalo Motorsports Park.
Boyles said the commission is looking to make the Uniquely Union Festival — which was successful last year — even more successful this year.
“We are continuing to work to make the event bigger and better for those inside and outside our community,” Boyles said.
Last year’s festival included 31 competitive cooking teams and a variety of activities and entertainment. Boyles said the festival started with no budget, and there are currently reserves left after its completion.
Boyles also said the commission is in preparation for the 2013 Tourism Summit. The first summit was held last year at the Union County Advanced Technology Center and included more than 30 tourism representatives from around the Upstate. Boyles said the summit received positive feedback, and this year’s summit will focus on how to expose the “hidden gems” in rural communities. Duane Parrish — Director of South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism — will be a featured speaker at this year’s summit.
For more information, look for “Experience Union County” on Facebook and visit www.experienceunioncounty.com.