$1,400,000 GRANT AWARDED TO WELLSTON ROUTE 327 RECREATION COMPLEX
Make Wellston Beautiful, Inc. a non-profit organization which leases Wellston’s ballfields from the City of Wellston, together with the Wellston Mayor Charlie Hudson and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced the award of a $1.4 million dollar Abandoned Mine Pilot Program Grant to improve the Route 327 Ball Fields during a small ceremony on Thursday, August 6, 2020.
“This grant money is a blessing,” said Tami Phillips, President of Make Wellston Beautiful. She noted that Make Wellston Beautiful is a small group comprised entirely of volunteers. Make Wellston Beautiful manages baseball, softball, soccer, and volleyball for area youth, including Jr. High baseball, softball, and soccer. “[Our programs] have turned into more than we ever dreamed when we started. In the next year, you will see great improvements here.”
Mayor Charlie Hudson noted that the project cost the City of Wellston no money. “MWB does an outstanding job,” he stated. “They work very diligently, all year long, completing all maintenance and costing the city nothing.” He also recognized all local and state office holders, especially Governor’s Office of Appalachia Director and Wellston native John Carey, for their assistance.
Scott Davies, an employee of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, explained the abandoned mine grant pilot program and forthcoming improvements. In the pilot program, it is possible to spend monies for other purposes than mine reclamation. “MWB’s work in the ballparks has rejuvenated the area,” he noted. “We figured this would be a great project.”
Ohio receives $10,000,000 annually for numerous abandoned mine pilot projects, including nearby projects in Chauncey, Ohio and at the Moonville Tunnel. “The reason why [the funding exists] is to spur economic activity in former mine areas,” Davies noted. By increasing the capacity and quality of the complex, more tournaments and visitors are possible, thus spurring tourism and injecting money into our community.
The complex was awarded approximately $1.4 million to complete several improvements:
TRAILS: Paved trails will be constructed leading from the facility to the High School Baseball/Softball complex and the High School Track.
HAZARDOUS WATER BODIES: One section of hazardous water body located adjacent to Pearl Kisor Field will be eliminated. This is to help better secure the property. The other hazardous water bodies, which are regularly used for fishing, will remain.
PARKING: The current Veterans Flag Park will be relocated adjacent to Ceil Geitz Field. The parking lot will be expanded with the north half being expanded into the current flag park and paved, and the south half being expanded with gravel into what is currently the soccer field.
ADDITIONAL FIELD: Dave Ousley Field, which is the current T-Ball field, will be moved and expanded to match the size of the other fields. As a result, the current shelter house and maintenance building will be relocated elsewhere on the site.
FIELD IMPROVEMENTS: Netting will be added on top of fencing to protect against foul balls. All fields will be lit: one field with Make Wellston Beautiful funding, the other three fields funded by the grant.
SOCCER FIELDS: A regulation soccer field will be built on Jeff Montgomery Way just east of Cecil Arthur Field, replacing the existing soccer field. A new parking lot will be constructed adjacent to the soccer field. Some of the adjacent water body will be filled in order to make a proper size field.
Make Wellston Beautiful received a proclamation from the office of US Representative Bill Johnson commemorating the event. In addition to recognizing the hard work of the many volunteers, he noted the importance of initiating such a significant project. “This is a big deal for the local and regional economy and will attract more visitors to our area,” wrote the Congressman. “Congratulations.”
State Senator Bob Peterson attended the ceremony. “Congratulations to all involved in the project. Not many ball parks are as nice as this one, or as nice as this will become,” he noted.
State Representative Jason Stephens was also in attendance. “It is an honor to be here. It has been a lot of fun to watch this happen. I am looking forward to the noise that comes from these facilities and watching these kids grow.”
Commissioner Paul Haller congratulated the partnership formed between the Wellston City Schools, the City, and Make Wellston Beautiful. “This is a huge project for not just Wellston, but also our region.”
To end the ceremony, Commissioner Jon Hensler led the group in prayer, thanking God for His many blessings involved with this project coming to fruition.
Construction will begin soon after approvals are received, drawings are constructed, and the bidding period is held. More details will be announced as they become available.
Make Wellston Beautiful is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Wellston, Ohio with the goal of improving recreation programs for the youth of Wellston in addition to hosting numerous beautification projects. MWB manages recreation league baseball, softball, T-Ball, soccer, and volleyball. Board members include Tami Phillips, Betsy Fain, Phil Fain, Bill Kilgour, Eric Lung, Mike Potts, and Jeff Plummer, and the soccer program is managed by Anthony and Sharon Brenner.
Wellston City Schools were represented by Superintendent Karen Boch. The City of Wellston was represented at the ceremony by the Mayor and Councilmen Anthony Brenner, Roaby Browning, Rick Hudson, and David McWilliams. Sincere thanks also go out to John Lowe from WSAZ and Phillip Buffington and James Hamilton from Total Media/The Telegram for covering the event.