A three-year overhaul of the youth baseball fields in George Francis Riverview Park nears the halfway point.

Prior to last season, fences destroyed in the July 2007 floods were replaced.

This season, the 9- and 10-year-old and 11- and 12-year-old fields have received newly graded and Bermuda-sodded playing surfaces and new block dugouts.

Next season, the T-ball and Pee Wee fields will be rebuilt.

Additional future projects include plumbing all fields with sprinklers, replacing old bleachers and furnishing playground equipment.

The improvements will be fully funded by the Ottawa County Youth Baseball Association, according to board president Jeff Womack.

“These are hopefully just the first wave of a series of improvements coming to the complex within the next few years,” Womack said. “The funds to achieve the improvements come in large part in the form of donations from area residents and businesses.”

Over the past five or six years the association has been able to raise and save approximately $28,000, he said.

“Last season, a generous gift from the Modoc Tribe of $2,000 for park improvements spurred debate over what should be done with the money,” Womack said. “That led to talk of what could be accomplished with all funds saved up to that point.  The board of directors agreed that the money should be reinvested in the complex and could be spent down to a balance of $7,000 or $8,000 each year. 

“The improvements would not be possible though if it weren't for involved parents and the commitment of the City of Miami,” Womack said. “It's really always been about parents pooling their resources with some help from the city to make it a good and healthy experience for all the kids. 

Some of the past board members who were directly responsible for the “rebirth” include Brett Hayes, Chuck Neal, Jason Arnold, Tony McCoy, Bill Osborn and Joel Perry. 

Businesses instrumental in donating materials and/or services either at or below cost include Neece Concrete and Construction, Miami True Value, NEO Concrete, Allen Sign Studio, Sooner Printing, T.H. Rogers, T L Tractor Works (Tyson Lawson), Rentfrow Masonry and Bolton Heat and Air. 

Present board members include Jeff Womack, Jamie Williams, Joel Perry, Zeb Neece, Todd Murphree, Bill Osborn, Steve Hartman, Adam Reed, Rick Pulley, Roger Ward, Scott Bundrick and Mark Folks.