Field of Dreams committee ready to start fundraising

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By Jonathan Stark

The Vandalia Field of Dreams committee is less than a week from finally getting out into the community to seek donations and sponsorships to help pay back the more than $30,000 it  has spent over the last three months.


On Tuesday, the committee will briefly meet to pick up brochures and informational sheets to take with them when they go to perspective donors and sponsors.


During the monthly meeting on Tuesday night, President Don Murrell announced that the committee had received its articles of incorporation, meaning it is now a fully fledged nonprofit organization with tax exemption.


Kenny Montgomery informed the committee that they are currently battling the elements when it comes to evening out the lower high school baseball diamond. More than a month ago, 40 loads of dirt were dumped on the field to be spread out to raise and level the field. The poor weather in October caused the dirt to hold large amounts of standing water. This past week, Montgomery worked to get most of the standing water out and begin moving the dirt around, but there is still too much moisture in the dirt to move it around significantly. The committee just has to wait for the dirt to dry out and hope that more rain holds off.


“October killed us, as far as the rain,” Murrell said. “We had 12 clear days out of the whole month.”


The committee also decided to increase the distance behind home plate on the lower diamond. Home plate will be moved up 10 feet, making the distance behind home plate and the backstop 40 feet. Both foul poles will be moved 5 feet toward center field.


“It’s going to make it a home run ball park,” Murrell said laughing. “If we got a lot of heavy hitters, they’re going to hit it out of the park.”


The move will also increase the amount of foul territory. Weather permitting, the committee hopes to have the dirt on the lower diamond spread out and between 2 to 4 inches of limestone on top of the dirt by the time winter arrives.


Work on the upper baseball diamond and the softball field has pretty much come to a close for the winter. Clay bricks have been laid down in the batters box and pitching mounds of both fields. The pitcher's mound on the high school diamond has been almost completely rebuilt and the committee believes it will be one of the best mounds in the area.


The sod and grass seed on the baseball diamond is growing well, but they plan to reseed parts of the outfield again in the spring. The sprinkler system has been completely drained of all water and is ready for the cold winter months.


The committee expressed some concerns over the safety of the fields, as a grassy area in between the baseball and softball diamonds has recently been damaged due to people driving on it. And they are worried someone might drive on the outfield of one of the diamonds. Softball head coach Brian Buscher said someone drove on the softball field last year. They plan to lock all gates to the fields and perhaps chain off the area between the fields where damage has already been done.


The erosion on the warning track continues to worsen, but for the time being, the committee does not plan to fix it. They have come up with a plan to fix the problem by putting in some drainage pipes, but will wait until the spring to install them.


More than half the meeting was devoted to fundraising. Buscher went over the plan that the committee would take out into the community, from a PowerPoint presentation that can be shown to perspective businesses that might give large donations to information about how citizens can get involved by giving small monetary donations.


Buscher said they are working to get a meeting set up with the Vandalia Chamber of Commerce sometime next month.


The committee has picked a Charleston company for signs , that business can buy and have hung on the outfield walls of the diamonds. The signs will be 4 feet wide and 4 feet tall. They can be single- or multi-colored, with prices starting at $300 for one season.


More details about the fundraising will be discussed during a brief meeting on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church.