Kauffman Ruritan Club's community park plans taking shape


KAUFFMAN, Pa. - Despite some setbacks, the vision of the Kauffman Ruritan Club is becoming reality.

The club, which runs the Kauffman Community Center Inc., off U.S. 11 south of Chambersburg, purchased five acres of farmland adjacent to the center in 1998 with the intention of providing "a well-maintained park with a family atmosphere," according to Ben Widder, vice president of the club and director of the Park and Grounds Committee.

In the small town of Kauffman, "there's not a lot for kids to do," said Widder, who grew up there, and the Ruritan Club wanted to solve that problem.

But the community center burned down in early 1999 and "that set us back," Widder said. Although the building was insured, costs for meeting government regulations for the kitchen and other areas were high.


Thanks in part to grants from Antrim Township, recent additions to the site include a pavilion, picnic area, playground, horseshoe pits and a wooded nature trail.

Last year, the club received a $6,000 grant from Antrim Township to seed the sports fields. The actual cost was $10,000; the difference was made up with money the club makes from its banquets and rentals.

After the field was seeded in the spring, the drought arrived, Widder said. While the field looks better now, it is not yet ready for football or soccer games. But, Widder said, it already has been used for flying-disc playing and kite flying.

Currently under construction are the multi-use field, a baseball/softball diamond, grass volleyball court, outdoor restrooms, a light concession area with patio, and a maintenance building. Widder hopes to have them all up and running in June.

The next phase will include a full-size basketball court, an in-line hockey court and a paved trail around the perimeter of the grass fields, connecting with the wooded trail.

Widder said the Ruritan is a charitable organization that gives scholarships and helps needy families. They currently are soliciting funds from the community to help complete the park project.

"It's a public park," he said. "Not everyone can donate time, but they can help to fund the project. When people reserve the pavilion or ball fields, they will be charged a maintenance fee. We're not out to make a profit."

Widder is looking for volunteers to help with electrical and plumbing work. "It's been a task," he said, "and we're a little behind schedule."

Widder is an athletic trainer at Boiling Springs (Pa.) High School, and lives beside the Kauffman field.

On a cold, damp Good Friday afternoon, he, Rodney Zeger and Michael Dell worked to get the ball diamond in shape.

Dell, a junior at Boiling Springs, removed weeds from the infield as his service project.

Widder measured to prepare for setting the bases. The field will have regulation Little League and softball distances, he said, and potentially conform to Pony regulations.

He described Ruritan member Rodney Zeger of Kauffman as his "number-one right-hand man" as they worked together.

Donations may be mailed before May 7 to Kauffman Community Center, c/o KCC Park Fund, 7289 Ruritan Drive, Chambersburg, PA 17201.

Help pave the way

For a donation of $75 or more to the park project, the center will place a 4-by-8-inch engraved Holland paver brick in the patio around the concession area. Pavers may be placed "in honor of," "in memory of" or inscribed with the donor's name. Inscriptions are limited to three lines with a maximum of 12 characters per line. For more information, call Ben Widder at 717-375-2934.

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