WESTOVER — Westover City Park will hear the crack of baseballs off bats and the cheer of fans after the winter months — this time from a brand new field.
Mayor David Johnson asked council to consider approving park levy funds for a new baseball field in the park.
Johnson said estimates for the cost of a new field would be discussed in October.
“They had over 600 kids signed up last year, and they expect more this year,” Johnson said of the WesMon Baseball Leagues, which uses the fields in Westover Park. “This extra field they are going to be building, and we are to all be building, is very much needed.”
Johnson said the baseball leagues have taken off in the last three years, since resident Gary Cain and his team took them over.
Johnson is excited about this project, which has been in the works about four years. He remembers playing Little League on those fields.
Cain said he met with the mayor and asked him to give the WesMon leagues another chance to play on those fields.
“I got a board together and spearheaded the thing, and we started baseball back there again,” he said.
Cain said the work included adding dirt to the fields, new fences and better parking areas.
“All the fields had to be redone. We spent time raising money and everything and with the city’s help, we redid all the ball fields. In the first year, we had close to 400 kids. We had a lot of success.
“The second year, we had close to 500 kids, and this last year, we had 600 kids,” he said. “But, we turned away 124 kids in the younger ages because we just didn’t have enough fields.”
That’s when Cain and Johnson got together to talk about a new field.
“We figure we will have about 750 kids playing next year,” Cain predicted.
Cain is proud that this league gives every child a chance to play.
“One thing we’ve done is keep the cost down to a minimum,” he said. “If kids can’t afford to pay, we scholarship kids in. We don’t let any kids not play because they don’t have the money. We even supply bats, gloves, shoes, socks, uniforms.”
The league is an official Little League franchise, Cain said.
“We’re trying to do this thing right. We hope we can be very successful. The field will be done by the time we play next year. So, we will be able to accommodate another 150 kids.”
Cain said the leagues and the city have worked together to continue improvements to the park.
Water problems have been addressed. New stairs have been installed where needed. The old Greer Pavilion was removed. Electrical service allows for lights on every field.
Johnson said he was working on estimates for the project, but thinks it will be about $109,000. A levy can provide $40,000 from last year and this year. WesMon Baseball Association is going to pay the rest.
Cain said the leagues will be raising money to help fund their portion of the new field.
“We are going to have a campaign to raise some funds, and I’m sure other people outside — I’ve talked to other people outside,” he said. “When we play over here, it’s not just Westover kids. We have kids from Morgantown and Cheat Lake and all around the area.
Johnson said he thought Westover council was receptive to the plan.
Councilor Edie Viola said she was in favor of it.
For more information about the WesMon Youth Baseball leagues, go to the WesMon Youth Baseball league facebook page. Any donations can be sent to WesMon Baseball, P.O. Box 264, Westover, WV 26502.”