Volunteers upgrade Vergennes-area ball fields

VERGENNES — Just as games in the Vergennes Area Youth League were set to begin this week, the league was finishing up a big push to upgrade and maintain the three ball fields that host area games, and it is beginning to plan and raise funds for a new softball field. These efforts are completely fueled by an active and hard-working group of volunteers, coaches, board members and donors, most of them parents of players.
The group is the Little League baseball and softball organization serving Vergennes, Ferrisburgh, Addison, Panton and Waltham. Children from those five towns play on six tee-ball teams, four teams in the “Minors” baseball division, two teams in the “Minors” softball division, three teams in the “Majors” baseball division and two teams in the “Majors” softball division.
Practices and home games are played at three fields, which are located at the Vergennes Union Elementary School, the Ferrisburgh Central School and the Vergennes American Legion.
The last three weekends have included significant maintenance efforts at the Majors field at the Legion and the Ferrisburgh softball field. The last big work day of the season was scheduled for this past Sunday, April 28, at the VUES field, where volunteers were spreading a tractor-trailer load of dirt — 24 tons.
Coordinator Carl Crawford offered the group’s gratitude to all who pitched in to help out in many different ways.
Work at the Legion field began with folks recutting the grass edges and removing most of the poor quality base path material that was holding water. Volunteers spread 24 tons of official “baseball dirt,” leveled it, re-graded it, and rolled it on the infield.
On Work Day Two, Bethany Hallock led an effort to fix and replace bleachers at the Ferrisburgh field. Of the four sets of bleachers at the venue, two were rotted in the support structure and two needed seating surface fixes. So they salvaged some materials from the two sets that were rotted, and were able to rebuild the two remaining sets at no cost other than sweat.
Crawford said the volunteers also added crushed stone to the bleacher area to reduce the mud and stabilize the walking surface from the parking area to and around the bleachers.
“This new stone base also will allow for the bleachers to be up off the grass and stop them from sinking into the mud and should also increase the usable life of these rebuilt bleachers as they are not sitting in the wet and rotting from the bottom up,” he said.
Crawford himself led the effort to rebuild and shore up the away team’s dugout. This dugout has blown over a number of times and needs to be moved at least twice each year (as the area is used for an ice rink as well as for softball). The dugout team reinforced the structure the best they could and put the metal roof back on. They also cut holes in the structure to allow air to flow through it in an effort to keep it from being blown over and sustaining further damage.
At VUES, a team of volunteers last fall spent a day doing basic maintenance, recutting the base paths and leveling the existing dirt the best they could. The Vergennes Boy Scouts Pack 539 also cleaned up and painted the dugouts. These efforts continued Sunday morning.
The Vergennes Area Youth League has begun discussions with the Vergennes American Legion post to look into the possibilities of constructing a new softball field on the Legion’s property. A concerted planning and fundraising effort is expected to begin soon. A number of additional “job jar” maintenance tasks need to be completed at each field, so any volunteers are always welcome.
A bottle drive is scheduled for Saturday, May 4. Players, parents and coaches will be traveling throughout the greater Vergennes area collecting redeemable bottles and cans. On the day of the bottle drive, redeemables can be dropped off at the Vergennes Redemption Center all day, or the Vergennes Recycling Center from 9 to noon.
Lastly, the league is selling tickets for “VAYL Night” at the June 20 Lake Monsters baseball game, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Vergennes Area Youth League.
“We have accomplished quite a bit this spring,” Crawford said.
Editor’s note: A schedule of Vergennes Area Youth League games is online at https://sites.google.com/site/vaylcalendar.

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