The Meridian Star
By Brian Livingston
Dan Fritts hopes it rains a great deal this winter.
The reason for this is simple. He wants the lake that he believes will become the centerpiece of Camp Eagle Ridge, to fill up quickly so those children from inner city Meridian will have a place to swim and catch a few fish if they so desire.
"Before, we would look around the camp and it just felt like there was something missing," said Fritts, the owner and director at Camp Eagle Ridge. "Somebody said we needed a lake and I immediately agreed with them. So I got in contact with one of my strongest, but quietest supporters."
Everyone in Mississippi and western Alabama knows the name Ralph Morgan. Morgan, Fritts said, has been a silent supporter of the camp since its inception three years ago. It was Morgan who Fritts said put up the fence at the camp and it was Morgan again who came through when Fritts and the children had a need.
"Former Lauderdale County Board of Supervisor Craig Hitt introduced me to Mr. Morgan," Fritts said. "I explained my vision to Mr. Morgan who just sat there and listened. He is a man of few words but when he says something you listen."
And Morgan said those words Fritts was anxious to hear, "I'll help ya."
Fritts said Morgan brought out the big guns — huge bulldozers to knock down the woods and underbrush and dump trucks to haul the debris off. Other large equipment was used to construct the dam and level out the bank areas. When it was all said and done, Fritts and Camp Eagle Ridge had their lake.
"I'm terrible at guessing how big the lake is," Fritts admitted. "But if I had to guess I would say it is about 12 acres once all the water gets in. It will be a great place for the kids to come and swim and we will stock it with fish so they can wet a line."
Fritts said Morgan shouldered the cost of the project that took about three weeks to complete. Now the pier is going in to give the kids a platform to fish and swim.
"Camp Eagle Ridge has been blessed to have supporters like Mr. Morgan who share in the same dream," Fritts said. "He is a quiet man who doesn't like attention but for what he has done for us, and for what this lake will mean to the kids who for years to come with enjoy it to the fullest, I only thought it appropriate to name it after him."