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Drought, then rain hinder work at ball park

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Dec. 10, 2000
A long summer drought hindered many outdoor activities and projects in Lauderdale County. Now, construction of a proposed baseball complex at Lover's Lane is hindered by just the opposite:
Lauderdale County supervisors signed a contract for site grading with a Stringer-based company, King Equipment and Dozier Service, more than a month ago, but owner Howard King said rains began shortly after equipment got to the site several weeks ago. Actual work only began last week.
If weather permits, King said his employees could get the job done in 3 1/2 to five weeks, but about three weeks of sunshine are necessary to dry the ground enough to begin hauling in dirt. King said the ground is saturated eight inches to a foot down.
The $175,000 contract is for site preparation, which includes clearing and grubbing, laying storm drainage and on-site excavation.
When complete, the $2.5 million multi-sports complex will house the baseball complex, tennis courts and a jogging trail. The baseball complex site is controversial.
When supervisors awarded the contract for site work last month, District 3 Supervisor Craig Hitt was still uncertain about the location. He abstained from voting.
Parts of the 79-acre property a quarter-mile south of Old Eighth Street Road are listed in both the flood plain and the flood way. Natural gas and petroleum pipelines run beneath the proposed facilities. Although officials said no lines run beneath the proposed baseball field sites, residents feared the complex would be unsafe.
State-Aid engineer Terrell Temple says no fatalities or injuries caused by the lines have been reported in the 60 years Plantation Pipeline has been operating in Mississippi. He said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reviewed the land. It is subject to 100-year flooding, but Temple said it has not flooded within the past 15-20 years.
King said neither he nor his employees have noticed anything they think will cause drainage problems, at least "not by the time we do our dirt work."
The next contracts will be for field, bleacher and concession stand construction and for lighting, county officials said.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at