The Christmas spirit permeated the Fort Bend County Commissioners Court on Dec. 4 when the court ceremoniously received a park from Sprint Sand and Clay.

Acting a year ahead of schedule, Don Poarch and Joe Swinbank of Sprint Sand and Clay donated an 18.5-acre tract of land with a community center and ballparks to the county. The park, located in the Four Corners area of Sugar Land, was built by the company nine years ago in an effort to restore race relations at a time when tensions were high between blacks and Hispanics.

"Our thought was if this project is successful, which we thought it was, we would donate it to the county at no charge after 10 years," Poarch said.

The company built a community service building on the land in hopes that it would serve as a place where the community could come together in a positive way.

"To make this a successful thing, they didn't just hand us a piece of dirt," County Judge Robert Hebert said. "In that same amount of years Sprint has contributed over $650,000 in cash to make this a success, so this building and those ballfields have all been built by the same folks."

After the meeting, Poarch said the company realized many of its employees lived in the area and they wanted to do what they could to help.

"The Four Corners area was kind of disjointed. It was a pretty rough area," he said.

Sprint Sand and Clay had more than 70 streetlights added and agreed to pay the electric bill for them. The park was built and added onto over time. Poarch said he felt their efforts paid off and it was time to make good on his promise to the county.

"It did bring the Hispanics and blacks together," he said.