New ball field dedicated in West Jeff

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 Messenger photo by Jeff Pfeil

On hand for the dedication of Stanley Electric Field in West Jefferson were: (front row, from left) ball players Ross Hall, Conner Dickerson, Hope Lewis and Andrew Lewis; (back row) Skeeter Nelson; West Jefferson Council members Sheila Nelson and Jim King; West Jefferson Parks and Recreation Director Jack McDowell; Dick Dickerson of UTI; Jeremy Lewis, Teresa Harsh, Joe Heunen, Cindy Morgan, Bill Coughlin, Shirley Greene and Lenhard Taylor of the Stanley Electric contribution committee; ball field project coordinator Richard Bausch; and project grant writer Mark Potter.

Play ball!

The cry can be heard now on a third diamond at Jack McDowell Park, formerly known as Converse Park located across from West Jefferson High School.

On July 9, the West Jefferson Youth Athletic Association (WJYAA) and West Jefferson Parks and Recreation Depart-ment dedicated a new baseball field, naming it Stanley Electric Field after the London auto parts manufacturer that contributed $22,500 toward the project.

“That’s one generous company,” said Mark Potter, who coordinated the fundraising efforts.

He added that Stanley’s contribution combined with volunteer labor and do-nations of money, materials and equip-ment from other entities allowed for a high quality end product.

“Every aspect has been done in an uncompromising way. It’s top-notch. It’s been worth the wait,” Potter said of the 18-month long project. “It’s really a nice gift to the community for a long time.”

Hard Work

Potter credits Richard Bausch, a supporter of WJYAA, for coordinating the construction of the field.

“He’s the guy who held this all together. There’s been a lot of players, but he’s been the one constant,” Potter said.

The task was a big one as the work that goes into building a ball field is more than meets the eye, Bausch said.

The area was dug up in order for drainage pipe to be installed. The infield was dug out 10 to 12 inches deep and filled with silt, sand and clay to keep the playing surface from being rock hard. Lasers were used to contour the field. Footers were dug, dugouts were built, and fences were put up, including a 20-foot backstop.

“We had a lot of people donate equip-ment and time. Without them, we couldn’t have done this,” Bausch said.

Among the volunteers who went all out was Richard Dickerson, a baseball en-thusiast and co-owner of Utility Tech-nologies International (UTI) in West Jefferson. In the planning stage, Dickerson visited diamonds all over central Ohio to come up with a design for the field. In the building stage, he and his employees put in countless hours, sometimes in the middle of the night.

“He has really come up in a big way,” Potter said, noting that Dickerson and UTI donated cash and thousands of dollars worth of labor to the project. The company specifically donated the dugouts and a batting cage.

Bausch also made special mention of Bryan Hunter and the Parsons family, who excavated the field and installed the drainage pipe, and Tod Elfrink and Dennis Gray, who are doing the concrete pad work.

The list of volunteers and companies who helped with the project is long, Bausch said, which means much money was saved.

“It would have cost $85,000 if we had paid contractors for all of it,” he said.

Need for the Field

The new baseball field was built for three main reasons. First, many teams play on the fields, making it difficult to schedule practices and games.

“The fields are just booked solid non-stop,” Potter said.

Second, the park was lacking a field large enough to properly accommodate 14-U teams. The new field has a larger outfield to meet this need, but also can be used for any other age group.

Third, an extra diamond—and one that works for 14-U—makes Jack McDowell Park better suited to host tournaments.

“Tournaments keep youth associations afloat because they make their money at the concession stand,” Potter said.

The first game played on Stanley Electric Field was a scrimmage on June 22. Official play on the field started July 9.

The WJYAA has long-range plans for further enhancing the new field. With another $15,000 in donations, they could install lighting for night games and more bleachers.

In addition to the three baseball diamonds, Jack McDowell Park features a football field, soccer fields and a nature park and walking trail.

For more information about the West Jefferson Athletic Youth Association, go to www.westjeffersonyouthsports.org.

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