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Rotary Club named volunteer of the year
Rotary award pic
Rotary Club of Dawson County, last week, received the Georgia Recreation and Park Associations Volunteer of the Year award for Rotary Island, the waterpark the club built at Rock Creek Park. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Rotary Club of Dawson County was recently named Volunteer of the Year by the Georgia Recreation and Park Association for building a waterpark, Rotary Island, at Rock Creek Park.

Lisa Henson, director of Dawson County Parks and Recreation, nominated the club for the prestigious award.

"This project, from vision to completion, has been a true testament to the spirit of volunteerism, leveraging of community resources and servant leadership," she said in the nomination letter.

Rotary Island, a three-dimensional, interactive waterpark featuring a 40-foot diameter with five above-ground water sprayers and six ground-level sprinklers, opened in August.

The club earlier this year committed to building the waterpark with proceeds from its annual golf tournaments, with partners Etowah Water and Sewer Authority providing the water and the Dawson County Board of Commissioners using staff for maintenance.

"Dawson County ... welcomed the community partnership idea, and both parties took the concept to the next level," Henson said. "Not only has the Dawson County community been the benefactor of these efforts, the entire project has the watchful eye of Rotary International and is expected to serve as a model for clubs nationwide."

According to Henson, the project has also captured the eye of other park and recreation agencies in the state and has the potential for future Rotary partnerships in other communities.

Rotary Club immediate past president Vernon Smith said he and all involved with Rotary Island, from the initial idea to turning on the water Aug. 28 to a crowd of excited kids, are honored and grateful to receive the award.

"Our intention for the park was to create a lot of pleasure for a lot of people, and at the same time, spread the Rotary Club word and its mission of service," he said.