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Donated excavating yields new ball field in Berkeley Co.

May 23, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

TOMAHAWK, W.Va. - Steve Catlett planted both feet firmly on level ground during the dedication ceremony for a new baseball field in Tomahawk, and said he had Fred Gantt to thank for it.

Catlett, the executive director for Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks and Recreation Board, was joined by about 50 people Monday afternoon at Rooney Park to watch a minor league baseball game on the newly dedicated Frederick D. Gantt Field between Hedgesville Little League teams, the Yankees and the Twins. He also thanked Gantt's excavating company for ironing out enough of the wrinkles on this 17-acre park to make a ball field possible.

"It's not Camden Yards; it didn't cost as much as Camden Yards, but it's a darn nice ball field and it wouldn't have been possible without Gantt's Excavating," Catlett said. "When we came back here there was not a level field on this acreage."

The field marks the first major improvement for the parkland, which was donated to Berkeley County about five years ago by the Tomahawk Ruritan Club.

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But it won't be the last.

The excavating company also is committed to donating all the costs for the construction of a second ball field in an adjacent lot, said Daniel Gantt, who introduced his father, Fred, and family members during the ceremony.

"It makes us feel good to be able to donate to the parks and (recreation) board," Gantt said. "We just try to give something back to the community."

Much of the work to remove rocks, haul in the dirt to level the ground and develop the field was completed in the company's spare time, the elder Gantt said following an unveiling of a sign bearing his name that hangs from the field's backstop.

"If we knew we had a job coming up and we got a tractor loose we'll bring it back here," Gantt said. "We just made the time to do it."

Aside from a $25,000 grant from the state tourism office, much of the work on the field has been from donations, said Catlett, who also credited the Ruritans for donating funds for a fence.

Aside from a second ball field, future improvements for the park will include a pavilion, walking trails and a fishing pond, Catlett said.

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