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Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Group to lead effort

Montgomery Field hit hard by tornado

By William Kincaid

The Celina Baseball Association, a nonprofit group consisting of Celina baseball. . .

CELINA - A nonprofit group called Celina Baseball Association is leading the charge to restore tornado-ravaged Montgomery Field.
The organization, consisting of Celina varsity baseball coach Andy Mikesell and players' parents, has a plan to get the field into shape for the upcoming season.
"The thing I like most about this is we don't have to do everything right away. The only thing we need to get the season started is a functional dugout," Mikesell told city council's parks and recreation committee on Monday night.
By taking on the project, the association could get the work done much more quickly and cheaply than the city government could because it wouldn't have to solicit bids or pay prevailing wages, relying instead on donations and deeply discounted contract work, city safety director Tom Hitchcock said. Upon its completion, the new buildings would be deeded over to the city.
Mikesell said the group is shooting for an April 1 completion date but added he'd be willing to alter his team's schedule a bit to accommodate the project.
The EF2 tornado that tore through town on Nov. 5 left parts of the field in tatters. Most of the fence was bent or torn to pieces. Two light poles were snapped in two. The press box-concession building was damaged with the top part being torn away. The first-base-side visitors dugout was literally blown away.
The Celina High School baseball team and Wright State University-Lake Campus Lakers share the field in the spring, and the Grand Lake Mariners and Celina ACME team call it home in the summer. The Lakers begin their season in March and the Bulldogs season commences the last Saturday of March, he said.
"What we're proposing is to replace the concession stand, press box and dugout," Mikesell said. "The dugout and the press box have been deemed a total loss."
While the concession stand is still usable, it's not in the best shape or ideal, Mikesell said, noting it's too narrow inside for workers. He also wants to build a second batting cage that would be indoors.
"The objective is to make those three bigger and better in the process," Mikesell said, noting the current press box was often cramped with as many as 20 people - media, scoreboard operators, statisticians, etc. - during Mariners games.
With donors already lined up and contractors willing to apply their trades at considerably reduced costs, Mikesell believes the entire project could be completed less than $63,000.
"People are seeing that. They're helping our charity, they're helping out our nonprofit and giving us good deals," he said, adding that Celina Baseball Association's top priority is to give anyone a chance to play baseball for free in Celina by covering the costs of camps and leagues.
Mikesell has proposed replacing the block buildings with wood-frame structures with metal exteriors. The materials are less expensive and could be assembled much more quickly. And if a tornado were to hit the area again in the future, the wood-structure buildings would be easier to replace, he said.
The metal exterior panels could easily and affordably be replaced if damaged by baseballs, he said.
City administrators said their insurance company is still appraising the total damage to Montgomery Field. But they know they'll be getting at least $34,000 for the destroyed press box and concession stand. The city also is in line to receive money for the damaged lighting and fence, Hitchcock said.
They proposed using that money to demolish the existing buildings and to clean up the site, including removing old foundations.
City officials are still waiting to learn about the condition of the bleachers, but Hazel said a donor has committed to replacing them.
City council members were overwhelmingly supportive of the project. Parks and recreation committee members Fred LeJeune and Myron Buxton both voted to recommend the project for council's formal approval. That will be considered at the next regular meeting set for 7 p.m. Dec. 18 in council chambers on the second floor of the city administration building.
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