Our Recreation Department had its beginnings in 1967, in the most unusual way.
Visiting Claxton in 1967 was John Davis, Executive Director of the Georgia Recreation Commission. John met with Perry Lee DeLoach of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and J. Fred Eden, editor of The Claxton Enterprise one morning to discuss a fulltime recreation program for Evans County.
DeLoach , who would later serve as Mayor of Claxton, suggested that they call citizens together that night. Davis told Deloach and Eden that " That was impossible and they needed to put such a meeting off until they could garner support." DeLoach responded, "John, just be here tonight in the fire station and we'll have the folks here." Davis, later said, " It was amazing at the crowd and the enthusiasm that showed up that night."
The City and the County passed ordinances to establish The Recreation Commission.
In March, 1968 they hired Danny Swain, a Senior Political Science major at Georgia Southern to run the summer program until they could hire a full-time Director. Swain, a native of Claxton had assisted and volunteered in programs previously.
The Recreation Commission at the time consisted of:
Calvin Brewton (Chairman)
During the summer of 1968, the choice of full-time director backed out and Swain was encouraged to take the job by Max Lockwood, the former director of Statesboro. He still serves as director today. That makes him the longest serving full-time director at the same agency in the nation.
The Claxton-Evans Recreation Department existed until January 1st, 1974 when it became the first consolidated service which had previously been shared by the City of Claxton and Evans County.
The people of Evans county passed a referendum in November, 1972 that authorized up to 1 ½ mills for recreation purposes. In 1976, the Recreation Commission unveiled its master plan for a new park on highway 280 east, and in 1977, The Evans County Recreation Department moved from its small confines on James Street to a new 40 acre facility.
The new park was dedicated in 1980 by Lt. Governor Zell Miller. It assumed the name of the Evans County Park. The current parks system included The Evans County Park (now over 50 acres.), The Bacon Ford Park, and access to the Canoochee River at the Rock River Park, Brewton Bridge and the Daisy-Nevil Bridge.
In 2007, a new center was dedicated to George Neder, a philanthropist who donated the land and the buildings in 1982 which now house the administrative offices, multi-purpose rooms, senior citizens center. At the time, it was the largest contribution of real property to the parks and recreation agency in the South. Added to the parks and recreation system in 2004 was the contribution of the old, vacant Tos Theatre in Claxton and plans are currently underway to restore it as a cultural arts center.