City, Babe Ruth Baseball makes quick fix

Published 8:53 am Monday, May 16, 2005

By by Tim Cottrell
Many Atmore residents are aware of the damages done to Tom Byrne Park by Hurricane Ivan.
These damages prevented Escambia County High School's baseball team from playing a single game there during the past season, and have managed to delay by a week the start of Atmore Babe Ruth Baseball.
Murray Johnson, district commissioner for Babe Ruth Baseball, said that everything was being done that could be done.
"We need a backstop," Johnson said. "We've fixed 120 feet of fencing and finished all except for the backstop. We're putting up six feet of medal fence and 12 feet of netting."
Atmore Mayor Howard Shell said the problem was being dealt with by the city.
"It's something that we are working very diligently with our insurance, FEMA, and engineers on," Shell said. "We are just as anxious as anyone to try to get things done."
Johnson said that part of the issue with getting the field fixed was a simple matter of time.
"The city, on all their damages, has to upgrade according to the current codes," Johnson said. "The poles, the fencing, and the wiring will all be replaced. There wasn't enough time to fix all that and get a season in, so we're making temporary replacements to deal with the problem and get a season in."
Johnson explained the current strategy for Atmore Babe Ruth Baseball.
"That field loss the use of the lights," Johnson said Wednesday. "For right now, we're going to have to play in the afternoon, because right now there's not enough time to get two games in with how early it gets dark. We've had some practice games already. We'll play two games on Saturday. We should have some netting put up Thursday, and that would only put us behind one week."
Johnson even managed to find a silver lining in the delay.
"It really worked out well with the kids that were in the baseball playoffs," Johnson said. "By the time we start most of them will be over."
Both Johnson and Shell agreed that the city was doing everything in its power to ensure a good baseball season this summer.
"We've been working hard, but there wasn't enough time after the insurance approved everything to fix the field," Johnson said.
"(We have) no idea exactly when (it will be fixed)," Shell said. "We had engineers in today. We're still trying to get things resolved. It's awful hard to get contractors in to give you quotes. Many of them are still tied up in residential and commercial projects. It's very tough to get them to look at municipal properties right now."
Despite the problems, Babe Ruth Baseball began play Saturday afternoon at Tom Byrne Park.

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