The Press Box For April 18
Tyler Consolidated put on a great baseball tournament this past weekend, with the weather finally cooperating. Under sunny skies and warm temperatures, the games went off without a hitch. The Boggs Wooden Bat Tournament has become a much-anticipated annual event. Congratulations to Tyler Consolidated for winning the tournament, 8-2, over the Magnolia Blue Eagles. Paden City won the consolation game, 8-6, over Frontier.
It’s really something when people get together to honor someone who was special in the community. With all the crime, drugs, and bad news, it does a soul good to see the ball fields crowded with fans rooting on their teams, especially when it’s in remembrance of an ex-athlete who had such a great impact on the local youth.
The fields are all looking great, but one local field sticks out above the rest. I’m not saying there hasn’t been a lot of work put in to all of them. I’m sure many have worked hard to get them where they are.
Most schools have board-owned fields, and the upkeep and expenses come out of their budget. Paden City High School, however, plays on a field owned by the city. The repairs, updates, and upkeep is mostly left up to the high school.
That’s where the Paden City Wildcats’ baseball parents club and all the volunteers come into play. Faced with an aging field in dire need of repairs, a group of concerned parents stepped up to the plate and smacked a grand slam.
After approaching the city council on a few occasions, only to get the same old, same old, they just decided it won’t get done if they don’t do it.
A lot of pride has gone into Paden City Park over the years. The beauty of the park, up until recently, has been admired by many. It has been a conversation piece for its beauty but has fallen on hard times, as of late. The story is, “We don’t have the money.” Well neither does New Martinsville, Sistersville, or Middlebourne and most other small communities in the state. However, most seem to understand the importance of maintaining a community treasure.
We need a new set of tires, or we need new computers. We need to fix roads. We need to give raises and bonuses. Our hot water heater is out, so let’s get someone else to put it in. But don’t ask us to help the Park and Pool, which I hear again probably won’t open. New Martinsville budgets around $141,000 a year for parks. That just includes salaries alone. Paden City budgets $9,000 with no salaries. Sistersville has been able, with the help of some great people, to keep the swimming pool in great shape and even add on new sprinkling systems for everyone to enjoy.
As I have said before, the joy of a beautiful park is a huge part in attracting newcomers to a community. Investing in fine facilities for the youth of today makes for a better tomorrow. It keeps kids from turning to drugs; it builds pride in everyone who lives there. It is so disappointing to see a place get ignored and turn ugly. Some people should be ashamed! Over the years, Paden City Park had been a progress in work, and there was always something being added to make it better.
Many city leaders saw the need and made it a priority. Somewhere along the line that has changed; the Park and Pool Commission cannot be to blame. Although when something is wrong, you hear it’s the Park and Pool Commission’s responsibility. However, when their funds are cut to the bare minimum they can’t operate; the blame then goes back to the city.
The Wildcat baseball parents club volunteers, under the direction of Jay Slider, has spent countless hours of their time and own money. Many businesses and people have made donations; there have been fundraisers and sponsors. The ball players have worked so hard to ensure they have a top-notch safe place to play.
With no thanks to the city, Paden City has, by far, the nicest small school facility in the state to play high school baseball. Just to list a few of the upgrades in the past two years: a new first-class LED scoreboard, new fencing around the entire field, new gates, a new batting cage and netting with concrete and turf, new netted hitting stations and two new bullpens (both tarped), new front and back decks on the concession stand, clay bricks for the pitching mound and batters box.
There is a new improved infield surface with a two year application of turface, which provides better drainage and reduces bad hops. There is a new catcher’s station in the bullpen area with a new backstop built. There are new green and white flags, and posts stand out for all to see.
There is an upgraded home dugout with a new helmet rack and bat rack mounted. There is a new brick front wall and one half fenced front. All dugouts have been repainted. Bat cage poles are new, and new black fence capping has been added. There are new team uniforms, training tools and a couple new team bats.
New backstop netting has been purchased for future backstop ungrading. Plans are in the works for a future press box, equipment building, and installation of a new PA system. It is hopeful they will get new men and women’s restrooms to be used for the baseball and softball teams.
All of this has been done by the baseball parents club and local contractors, with great support from sponsors and donations. The Wetzel County Board of Education and the County Commission have given monetary donations.
It has also been noted the parents club paid for storm damage repairs to the scoreboard and fences, without one penny of help from the city. What a shame!
Go down and take a look at what can be accomplished by those who care. What a great baseball and softball complex with more to come! Then go look at the other side of the park: a pool not safe for our children, walking trails filled with mud and debris. Much more could be said, but take a look yourself.
There is also a great little league in Paden City. Again, the fields are maintained by volunteers. Thanks to the great volunteers of this town; without them, the park would be like the pool. No longer safe for children. eparsons@tylerstarnewscom