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Youth football field in Ranson a community effort

September 03, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

RANSON, W.Va. - The community is coming together to build a $2 million football field for Jefferson County youths, and officials are expecting at least 3,000 people to attend a dedication of the field Saturday.

The Jefferson County Youth Football League has grown steadily over 19 years, starting out with 60 children but now serving more than 600, said Jimmy Pierson, spokesman for the group.

The league's games were played at Charles Town Middle School and Jefferson High School, but the youth league has found that route a little tougher because of growing sports programs at those schools, Pierson said.

Now, the youth football league has a home of its own, thanks to the generosity of developers, government and local businesses.

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This Saturday at 10:15 a.m., the Charles C. Marcus Field will be dedicated behind The Marketplace at Potomac Towne Center along the Charles Town Bypass in Ranson. Six games will be played that day and three games will be played Sunday, Pierson said.

Local developer Terry Marcus said last year he began talking to Ranson City Council members about the project. Marcus said he and his brother, Ronnie, were going to build a baseball field on the property to provide green space, but determined there was enough space for a football field.

The Marcus family owned about 160 acres in the area and donated about seven acres for the football field, Ranson city officials said.

The Marcus family also built the facility's fieldhouse and helped prepare the playing field, organizers of the project said.

The generosity soon began to spread.

Jefferson Asphalt Products Co. donated the asphalt needed at the sports facility and Arden Equipment Repair in Berkeley County gave a riding mower, among many donations from other businesses, according to Pierson.

The City of Ranson donated $6,000, the Jefferson County Commission donated $5,000 and the City of Charles Town donated $1,000, project organizers said.

"I'm ... proud of what's going on here," Ranson City Council member Duke Pierson said.

"These things just don't happen," said Ranson Mayor David Hamill, explaining that they develop due to a strong sense of community spirit.

"You're looking at legacies here," Hamill said.

Pierson and Ranson city officials showed off the facility during a tour Sunday afternoon. The lush green field had lines on it, ready for play, and Pierson showed the fieldhouse, where an upstairs press box with sliding windows looks out onto the field. The field house also will have plasma televisions, where coaches can review game footage with players and computer labs, and where parents can bring their children to do homework while their other children are on the field playing, Pierson said.

The cost of the facility is about $2 million, with about 90 percent of the materials and other resources donated, project officials said.

League officials are still working on the project as they ready for Saturday's dedication, and bleachers are expected to be delivered today, Pierson said. Pierson said he is still trying to raise another $250,000 for the facility, and people willing to make donations may call him at 304-725-0552.

Pierson said nine games will be played at the new field every Saturday, and the field will also be made available to Jefferson High School's football program and local soccer programs.

The field has already been used for several music events.

The field is being named in honor of the father of the Marcus brothers, who was involved in the development of the Turf Motel on East Washington Street and other business efforts in the county.

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