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Grants, community support will make ball fields a reality

Tags: Regional Partnerships

Grants, community support will make ball fields a reality.jpg

Kaylee Dunham, Delta County Independent 

Richard Flores, a teacher and coach of 15 years in Hotchkiss, was the main speaker July 16 at the Kids Pasta Project fundraising dinner. The dinner was held at the North Fork Swimming Pool and brought in $300 to go toward the construction of new baseball fields near Hotchkiss High School.

Flores shared his thoughts on the need for a new field. "My most fond memories were of playing baseball, growing up. I love the prospect of having these fields. As a coach I love what athletics have to offer, and the values that they teach you in life. As a community member I really love that we're bringing all of these activities together in one place. Currently all of the softball, T-ball and baseball fields are in different locations and it will be great to have them all right here."

Flores added kids need to have a safer place to play ball. The dust bowl, as the current field is nicknamed, is not only old and causes players to go home with dust covering every inch of their bodies, it is also unsafe. To reach the dust bowl small children have to cross the highway after school.

"One time I drove my truck out from the school and stopped traffic both ways, causing people to honk at me, just so a couple of kids could cross the street and make it to the dust bowl safely," said Flores.

The North Fork Pool, Park and Recreation District and Hotchkiss Home Plate have partnered together to make this dream a reality. 

Michelle Pagone with Hotchkiss Home Plate said they had close to 120 kids in the program this year which resulted in a lot of volunteer time and effort. Pagone thanked everyone on the board by name and called special attention to softball coach Ben Harrison who halfway through the season said his goal was to have the first Hotchkiss High School softball team. Amanda Meredith was another individual Pagone called special attention to, because she arranges every year an opportunity for the kids to take the field with the Colorado Rockies in Grand Junction. 

Lenore Cambria, district administrator for North Fork Pool, Park and Recreation District, invited Ulli Lange to come to the podium in recognition of his service.

"At this point in time we did receive $350,000 from GOCO," Cambra said. "We also applied for and received $15,000 from El Pomar. We received $30,000 from the Gates Family Foundation, and I am going to present to DOLA on Wednesday to ask for a donation of close to $400,000 so that we can make these fields. We also have an application in for the Daniels Fund. They will not review it until August but it will be for $75,000. We are also going to present at DMEA on the 24th of July. From them we hope to receive an in-kind donation to run electricity to our scoreboards."

Cambria continued, "Support from the community will help to prove to the grant foundations that the community is invested in this effort and that it is a real need."