Sago: Hoggard, McKenzie didn’t ask for $50,000

County manager disputes April newspaper report

By Kevin Spradlin

ROCKINGHAM — County Manager Rick Sago wanted to set the record straight Monday night during the Board of Richmond County Commissioners meeting about a published report in The Richmond County Daily Journal regarding a supposed request for $50,000 for youth football.

Sago said there was no such request made by Richmond Senior High School varsity football coach Paul Hoggard and Principal Keith McKenzie at the commissioners’ April planning meeting that took place at the Richmond County Airport.

Paul Hoggard

Paul Hoggard

The two men spoke at length before the commissioners and went into detail about the start-up costs for the league, which would be about $50,000, plus annual maintenance costs of about $4,000. Hoggard said the youth football league, which would offer programs for youth as young as 7 years old, would be a countywide league similar, in certain aspects, to what is currently offered by the Hamlet Parks and Recreation Department. Differences, Hoggard noted, would be in the timing of the league. He said the new league would run from September to the end of October, whereas the Hamlet league plays into November.

In reviewing a video of the meeting, neither Hoggard nor McKenzie come right out and ask for the money. Hoggard does suggest that there could be an existing county or school system-owned building that could be used to store equipment in a safe, secure environment. Hoggard also noted he hated to “beg” for the money.

The commissioners, though not directly asked, appeared to support the idea of the new program.

“You feel like that would get you off the ground,” Commissioner Thad Ussery asked about the $50,000 figure.

None of those comments or questions, Sago said Monday, were intended to serve as a direct request of the commissioners for any money. Sago said all McKenzie and Hoggard did was to “basically discuss a plan to organize some youth football in Richmond County” that would be used as a feeder system for the high school program.

“I didn’t feel they were saying anything negative” about the program in Hamlet, Sago said. “There seemed to be some confusion on some (newspaper) coverage of that meeting. I just wanted to clarify that … they did not ask for money. Will they tai money from the county? Probably. But that’s not what they asked.”

Sago said that, instead, the league would rely primarily on private donations.

Commissioner Kenneth Robinette echoed Sago’s message.

“They did not come to ask the county for any money (and) in no way were they trying to take money from academics,” Robinette said.

Robinette said he’s fielded multiple phone calls from business leaders interested in supporting the creation of a countywide youth football program such as the one Hoggard and McKenzie plan.

Robinette said McKenzie and Hoggard “actually asked us, as community leaders, did we know anyone” willing to make a donation, although such a question could not be heard by the when reviewing the video of the meeting.

Ussery said the appearance of the two men was “strictly” for informational purposes.

“There was no way they asked the commissioners for any funding whatsoever,” Ussery said Monday.

Ussery reiterated his support for a new program.

“I think the program’s great,” he said. I think some businesses are willing to step up and support this. All in all, it was good publicity … letting people know it had been talked about.”


Filed in: Latest Headlines, Sports

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