Hometown Hero--Ernie Walthour

Keeping children occupied is one way to keep them out of trouble, and Ernie Walthour has made it his mission to help young people in Liberty County stay on the right path.

Walthour has been director of the Saint James Sports and Recreation Center for the past eight years. Children of all ages go there after school.

"We have an excellent tutorial program here at Saint James, where we tutor them," he said. "They have a sports program and also they have a hot meal every night."

"This program reaches out and touches the hearts and soul of all types of people within Liberty County," said county commissioner Marion Stevens. "And also with this program that Mr. Walthour is operating over here in the hometown community, it helps take a large burden off the Liberty County Recreation Department."

Over the years, thousands of children have come through the program and loved every minute of it.

"He works with us hard, he helps us with everything, when we need help, he's right there," said Calandra Thomas, 9.

Wathour's reason for being so passionate about these children is very simple. "I know where I came from," he said. "My mother and father worked hard to get me where I'm at and then I had good mentors like Coach Johnson and Charles Sherman who ran the recreation department. They took me in like I was one of their own kids and that kind of...it makes me want to give back more to the community because I had somebody to do it for me."

Under Walthour's leadership, the Saint James summer program will get a brand new swimming pool and skating rink.

For his dedication to the youth of Liberty County, Ernie Walthour is this week's WTOC Hometown Hero.

The program is funded primarily by the Saint James Community Church, the United Way and contributions from the law firm of Osteen and Osteen.

If you'd like to nominate a Hometown Hero, you can drop us a line at the station: PO Box 8086, Savannah, GA 31412, or email  rwallace@wtoc.com.

Reported by: Ron Wallace, rwallace@wtoc.com