Rod & Gun club provides year round recreation

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By Cindy DiFazio

Staff writer/photographer

Close-to-home vacation destinations are a great idea for saving money in a tight economy, but how about a recreational spot families can use year-round for one reasonable membership fee?

The Henry County Rod & Gun Club, located off Sunnyside Drive between Eminence and Smithfield, is a 12-acre retreat with a nine-acre, fully-stocked fishing lake. There also are plenty of camping spots and a clubhouse.

Club president Ken Case noted that the club has been in operation since 1954. “It’s the best kept secret in Henry County,” he said.

Case stressed that although the word “gun” is in the club name, no shooting or weapons are allowed. He said it has been the club name since its beginnings and changing it would be cost-prohibitive.

“It’s a great place to fish, camp and cook-out,” Case said. “It’s going to cost $30 a night to camp at other places.” Camping is primitive, but the clubhouse has a modern bathroom, kitchen and television. One camping spot is equipped with an electric hookup for a modern camper. “This is a very family-oriented place,” Case said. “We encourage bringing the kids out here.”

The club is a registered non-profit organization with an annual family membership fee of $50. Fees are used to restock the lake with fish, for chemicals to keep algae at bay, mowing and all other club maintenance. This year, fees paid for a new clubhouse roof.

There are monthly meetings where members may ask permission to use the facility for special events. Case said members often use the clubhouse for get-togethers such as birthday parties. “If you’re a member, you’re an owner of the club,” he said.

Game Warden and lifetime club member Tony Rucker provides a measure of security by checking membership cards and helping out on the property. “We really want to thank Tony for all he does,” Case said.

He said the property is beautifully maintained, clean and peaceful. “I’ve been going out there for ten years,” Case said. “Sometimes I don’t even fish. I just sit out in the trees.”

The membership application process is first-come first-serve. The club accepts new member applications beginning February 28, 2009. Letters are mailed to current members around the same time asking if they want to continue membership. Current members who do not respond by April are removed from the membership rolls and new members voted in.

Those interested in joining may contact Case, club vice-president Ronnie Kidwell or secretary/treasurer Sonny Briley at Westend Sports in Eminence, 845-7256.

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