Cumberland Times-News

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April 25, 2014

Keyser to light up youth baseball field

City officials hope county will provide funding match

KEYSER, W.Va. — The Keyser City Council voted unanimously Wednesday to come up with $14,000, providing that the Mineral County Commission will match the amount, to purchase lights for the Redd Kitzmiller baseball field at Mill Meadow. The city would file for the reimbursement of $20,000 in two grants.

“It would be nice to get that project done this year,” said Mayor Randy Amtower.

The total cost of the project is $60,000, with $48,000 to purchase the lights and $12,000 to install them. In the future, city will find the money needed to install the lights. The city and the county will provide $28,000 toward the purchase of the lights and the remainder will come from money that Keyser Youth Baseball has raised.

“For a youth baseball team, that is a huge amount of money to raise,” said Amtower. “I think that’s very commendable; that shows you how bad they want a lighted field.”

The city and the county will each be reimbursed $10,000 by the two grants but will each need to come up with an additional $4,000 that will not be reimbursed. One $10,000 grant is from the West Virginia House of Delegates and the other is from the state Senate. The grants are designated for purchasing the lights for the field, according to Amtower. The council has to act fast because the grants expire June 30.

“I, for one, would hate to see this $20,000 in these two $10,000 grants be lost,” said Amtower.

The council appeared hesitant to approve the expenditure without a solid commitment from the county.

“Look at our budget and look at their budget. ... If we can squeeze out $14,000 then they can squeeze out $14,000,” said Amtower. “This project is going to serve more of the county population than the city population.”

As a last resort, the city would take the $14,000 out of the rainy day account and then would put the money back once it is reimbursed.

If the county government can’t come up with its half of the money, the matter will be brought back up during a special city meeting, according to Amtower.

The baseball teams will pay the electric bill for the lights, according to Amtower.

In addition to providing something for the youth to do in the area, a lighted field will also help boost business in the county.

“When you bring something into town, whatever it is, it brings people. When people come to town they come to town with at least a little bit of money and they rarely leave town without leaving a little bit here,” said Amtower. “That’s part of the first building blocks of rebuilding a community.”

Karol Ashenfelter, a local resident, agreed that a lighted baseball field would help to draw people into the area.

“It’s a no-brainer, especially if you are going to get it back,” said Ashenfelter.

The city is in need of a lighted field because two fields were lost at the South End Park when the new Keyser Primary School was constructed.

“It’s a step in the right direction for the kids; they are being penalized because they lost two ball fields,” said Councilman Clinton Faulk. “With the small footprint that we have to work with for facilities like this we have got to utilize every opportunity we have out there.”

Six years ago, Councilman Sonny Alt said a request was attached to water bills asking the city’s 3,000 water customers for a $1 donation to Little League baseball.

“In the beginning they funded really well, now we are lucky to get $100 to $125 a month donations off the water bill,” said Alt.

Council also voted to restore a loading and unloading zone at the music hall located on the corner of North Main and Center streets. The council voted in March to discontinue the zone because it had become a permanent parking spot and was making it difficult for large vehicles to get through there.

Not being allowed to park in front of the building was making it hard for the six businesses located within  the music hall to operate, said property owner Alex McDonald.

The council also voted to change City Hall office hours weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The change was made to align office hours with that of other city departments.  

Contact Elaine Blaisdell at eblaisdell@times-news.com.

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