, Muskogee, OK

Fort Gibson

February 9, 2011

Sports complex repairs OK’d

Fort Gibson’s youth will have a better place for home runs and strikeouts thanks to approved repairs for the Carl Perry Sports Complex.

The repairs are scheduled in "the next couple of months," said Mayor Steven Hill.

He said planned renovations would fix field lights, clean some vandalism on the concession stand, and mend fences.

Also, Hill said, the infield would cleared of grass and new, breakaway bases ordered for players' safety.

He stressed money for repairs would come from Parks and Recreation's budget, not local businessman Jerry Whitlock's donation for a brand new sports center.

Hill said developments concerning the newer center would be discussed at the next board meeting.

Jerry Cook, another former Board member, remembers when the older complex was built.

“We only had the one baseball field,” he said. “There was a push for more.”

Built in the early 80s, the center was named after Carl Perry, who was "very, very instrumental in Fort Gibson ball," said Theda Rowan, former member of the Park and Recreation Board and current trustee.

According to Rowan, in addition to a matching grant from what is now Georgia Pacific, the trustees sold part of the park behind Fort Gibson Post Office to help pay for the complex.

The $70,000 they received paid for workers from Tahlequah’s Bill Willis Skill Center, who came and leveled the fields.

The town was only charged for materials and expenses, not labor.  

"It was training for the people using the machines," explained Rowan.

The news of repairs came as a relief to Jennifer Jones, who alongside her husband Randy runs the Fort Gibson Youth Baseball Association.

“My (4-year-old) son grabbed a conduit from one of the light poles, behind concessions,” she said, “and it shocked him.”

Jones explained the Parks and Recreation board, along with Hill, walked through the repairs with her and her husband.

Hill's proposed time frame would see the repairs complete in plenty of time for the Association's season, which begins May 2.

Jones said she was signing players up through at least Feb. 12.

"It may go on for longer," she said, "thanks to the weather."

Randy and Jennifer Jones took over the league last year. Currently, she says, she has ten teams returning, ranging from ages 4 to 10.

“We need coaches, though,” she said. “We always have more coaches than kids.”

Jones said the league's value was in providing kids with something to do.

“Besides soccer, there's not a lot for kids to do in Fort Gibson,” she explained.

Because the league isn't highly competitive, said Jones, anyone can sign up to play.

“We want everyone to play,” she said. “We want the kids to have fun and be safe.”

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