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franklin county times

State Games provides historic boost

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
June 14, 2002
Amateur athletics and tourism. Those two concepts were drawn together to help form the State Games of Mississippi.
The State Games will open for the 11th year tonight with the opening ceremonies at Ray Stadium.
Back in 1991, four of the people who helped get the State Games off the ground and running, said the event has taken the shape that they had originally imagined.
Brian Dabbs, the current Chairman of the Board for the State Games, was also there in the beginning along with former Meridian Community College President Dr. Bill Scaggs and the Games' first Executive Director in Randy Hodges.
Dr. Scaggs recognized the State Games would provide a good economic boost both for Meridian and MCC.
Hodges said Dr. Scaggs' help by providing the MCC facilities help give the Games a big early boost.
The committee saw an opportunity to bring a statewide sporting event to Meridian. To make it work, we needed to create interest statewide with a core of sports like soccer, archery, softball, baseball and basketball," Hodges said.
A lucky trip plants the idea
The State Games may not have happen had John Griffing, who in the early 1990's was executive director of the Meridian Chamber of Commerce, not been on a business trip in Virginia.
The group, which also included Bill Elliott and others, attended a convention for the National Congress of State Games in St. Louis in 1991. There they learned the ins and outs of putting together a multi-sport event.
On May 30, 1991, Ray Mabus, the then Governor of Mississippi, publicly handed the State Games to Meridian at a ceremony at Highland Park.
The initial games were dubbed a success with nearly 1,800 athletes competing in 21 sports.
Hodges left after one year to return to the education field. Vannetta took over as the Executive Director and Elliott became Chairman of the Board. Dabbs is now the chairman and has been the for the past five years.
Dr. Scaggs stayed on the original board until stepping down last year, he also likes where the event is heading.
The Games belong to Meridian
Dabbs, who will step down from the chairman's role following the Games completion on May 23, says the State Games belong to Meridian.

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