Long Beach secures grant to help fund youth sports

LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - The city of Long Beach recently secured a small grant for their Parks and Recreational department. It all started when Long Beach Alderman Gary Ponthieux casually asked a Walmart manager if the company offered grants.

"I said, what about grants? Do y'all distribute any type of grants? And she says, 'Yes, we do. Annually, we give grants out,'" Ponthieux recalled.

After learning what the requirements were, he passed the information along to Robert Paul, who is the city's Parks and Recreational director.

"These smaller grants are great. Larger grants, of course, take a lot of time and, of course, follow up information on these," said Paul.

Unlike most big cities, Long Beach doesn't have an economic developer or grant writer, so smaller, less tedious grants are the only ones for which they apply. Entities, like the youth recreational leagues, are fully funded by the registration fees paid by the participants.

"Our leagues are all volunteer run. And when they register, that is our basic income to support the leagues," said Paul.

A $2500 grant may not seem like much, but Long Beach Mayor Billy Skellie says anything helps.

"There have been a lot of budget restraints from big sponsors through the years, and it puts a lot of pressure on the leagues themselves," said Mayor Skellie.

He adds that he is proud of Alderman Ponthieux for being aware of the need to support these youth sports.

As for the money, Parks and Recreational Director Robert Paul said they plan to distribute some to each sport.

"We'll divide it up accordingly. We've got five different programs that will benefit from this money: baseball, softball, football, cheerleading, and basketball," said Paul.

In the meantime, city officials believe they have found something good, and will look for more grants such as this one in the future.

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