G-A varsity baseball to trade playground for school campus

The Jerome R. King Playground will celebrate its 90th birthday next year with much of its life centered about baseball. The baseball diamond, renamed for Charles “Whitey” Barkdoll, is featured on the playground logo. The game, however, will be scarce this season as the high school varsity moves its game back to the school after three decades on the community diamond.

The dirt pile will stay put, the dugouts went up by volunteers, and the baseball field will be ready for the first home game March 23. That was the update on the Greencastle-Antrim School District baseball program presented at the March 15 school board meeting.

During the Facilities Committee report, Mike Shindle and Brian Hissong shared information on the progress in moving the sports program back to the campus. Varsity games had been played on Barkdoll Field at Jerome R. King Playground since the late 1970s, and junior varsity used the school field now under renovation.

The pile of dirt excavated during upgrades to the stadium last year will remain beyond the field of play for the time being. Shindle said it was too expensive to move and the district would eventually use it all. The not-quite-finished concrete block dugouts were installed by the Baseball Booster Club, which will also put up the 6-foot outfield fence.

"A ton of people are doing a lot of work and making donations," said Hissong. "They are going above and beyond and will publicly be thanked later."

After the meeting, athletic director Vicki Ritchey and booster member Troy Byers noted the work done by volunteers. Once the infield fence, handled by the school district, was in place the floor of the dugout would be poured.

Byers was leveling the ground beyond the bases, but the infield needs would be addressed later, and the drainage system after the season.

In recent years, the school paid the Jerome R. King Playground Association $100 per game, typically spending $1,000 a year. The committee did not have the personnel to prepare the diamond so at times parents took off work to get it ready. Since the boosters were willing to direct money toward that fee, they agreed to shift it to needs at the school.

"The JV field was beaten and battered because middle school field hockey and soccer used it for practice," said Ritchey. "Our goal now is to confine and enclose the baseball and softball fields, and maintain them strictly for those sports."

She added that the proximity to the other athletic fields made game management easier when several events occurred at once, since no extra staff had to be hired to monitor games at the playground. The first JV game is Friday, and the first varsity game March 28.

Other business

Board members Eric Holtzman, Joel Fridgen, Melinda Cordell, Ken Haines, Tracy Baer, Mike Still, Shindle and Hissong approved adoption of a  Universal Tax Installment Plan resolution. William Thorne was absent.

The resolution was an Act 25 mandate to allow small businesses the option to pay real estate taxes in installments. In the G-A district that meant the months of August, September and October. Act 1 already gave the outlet to approved homestead and farmstead properties. Business manager Richard Lipella doubted large businesses would use the plan, since they preferred the discount accompanying full payment. And only three percent of taxpayers used the option.

"For simplicity sake, we should expand this to everybody, not just small businesses," he said. "We won't have a cash flow problem if we adopt it."

Superintendent Dr. C. Gregory Hoover reported that the next application for the Keystone to Opportunity grant had been submitted. Since some schools had dropped out of the competition, G-ASD had a better chance at the $1 million it was asking for.

"It's been a good experience educationally, looking over our programs," he said.