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FOD half way to goal for phase two

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By Jonathan Stark

The Field of Dreams committee announced at its monthly meeting on Tuesday night that it is "over the hump," in fund rasing for phase two of the high school diamond construction.
Luke Hohlt, VCHS baseball coach, gave a report showing that the committee has raised $39,565, with $25,640 of the money already in the Old Capital Fund account. More than $13,900 has been pledged to be given in the next 12 months.
The group still needs $25,384.75 in hand to hit its goal of $51,024.75.
"We're over the hump," Hohlt said. "We now need less than we have, and things are going good."
The committee needs $11,000 more pledged and about $15,000 more in the bank before it starts construction on phase two.
Phase two includes new brick dugouts and a backstop on the high school baseball field.
The committee has also set a goal start date for construction, Sept. 27 of this year. It believes it can secure the final $15,000 by then if some pledges come in early and more businesses give large donations.
Most of the nets and dugout padding purchases can be put off until spring, when more funds are available.
Last month, Vandalia was able to host its first Jr. Legion district tournament, due to all of the improvements to the field in the past year, and Vandalia will host another tournament this fall.
On Sept. 23, it will host the semifinal and finals of the Egyptian-Illini Conference Tournament.
Hohlt also reported that the maintenance fund holds $6,553.43.
Don Murrell has already sold two new sponsorship signs for next season. Signs from this past  season will be taken down in the weeks following the EIC tournament, any damaged signs will be repaired and they'll be stored indoors during the winter.
The committee anticipates some businesses not renewing their signs for next season, but thinks it will bring in more new business than business lost.
Outside of the high school diamond, the group is looking into putting limestone on the Freight field on Locust Street. The lower high school diamond had been covered with limestone this past season, and the results were very good with very few, if any, rain outs.
If the Freight field is redone, the infield will be extended to allow for 70-foot basepaths, so that the YMCA Pony League can play on the field.
"We can give these kids a chance to hit a home run," Kenny Montgomery said.
Looking down the road a bit, the committee is concerned about bringing more people into the fold.
It its first few meetings last summer, more than two dozen people were in attendance. Since then, attendance has dropped to just a handful of people.
The committee urges future, current and past baseball parents to attend the meetings, as well as anyone from the community.
As well as bringing in new people, the committee is looking for new ways to raise money. They pointed out that phase two will cost $50,000, but phase three will be three times that. While grants have always been an immediate idea for the group, they have yet to find someone with enough expertise in the field.
The Vandalia Field of Dreams next meeting will be Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m. at the First Presbyterian Church.