Wardell Leach said he is tired of begging, and it won’t happen again.
The former Yazoo City mayor said he will never appear before local elected officials again with his hat in his hand, hoping for the funds to operate the city’s swimming pool at the complex which bears his name.
“I vow that I will not go to the city or the county boards, begging for money,” he said. “They know their obligations and responsibilities. They are smart people, but we expect them to do what they were elected to do. It appears that they are not going to do what is needed from them to operate our swimming pool. And we, as citizens, can’t allow it.”
Last year, Leach appeared before the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors to ask for help in opening the public swimming pool at the Wardell Leach Recreational Complex. It was feared, due to budget cuts, that the Parks and Recreation Commission would not be able to afford to open the swimming pool.
The city council, particularly, instructed the commission to open the pool, adding that they would cover whatever shortfall arose within the commission’s finance. But then when the bill arrived, that assistance was never given.
“The city and county board know what they are supposed to do,” Leach said. “They need to stop hiding behind certain words like ‘they shall’ contribute so many mills.”
Leach said he is kickstarting a campaign to raise funds to ensure the public swimming pool will open this year. Although the pool did open last year, he said it was open for two months. He would like to see the pool opened longer to ensure children have a place to swim.
“When I was growing up, we learned how to swim in the river, which wasn’t the safest thing,” Leach said. “Then you had kids swimming in the ditches around town. That was a recent thing too because it wasn’t too long ago, we had that poor girl drown in the ditch. The pool being open offers a safe place for our children to swim.”
Leach said he has always been a proud supporter of the public swimming pool. Not only are children provided swimming lessons, but it is a “positive, wholesome” activity to engage local children.
“Do we want to recreate or incarcerate,” Leach asked. “We are supposed to be Christians, and I can’t help but think of the scripture of doing it for the least of them, you do unto me. The children can’t do it themselves. We have to do it for them. It is a sin not to help them.”
Leach admits he is disappointed in how local government is handling the funding issue within the Parks and Recreation Commission. But he is determined to remind elected officials that a movement can begin within its citizens.
“You were elected to make things better,” he said. “Are you making it better when you deny the recreation department or when you open the pool?”
Donations can be dropped off at The Yazoo Herald on Grand Avenue in Yazoo City. Receipts will be provided, and all funds will go directly to the Parks and Recreation Commission, specifically for the swimming pool operation.