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Citizens unite for Wellsburg parks

PARK IMPROVEMENTS — Volunteers with the Wellsburg Baseball and Softball Association are planning to install new batting cages at Wellsburg’s Betty Carr Recreation Site in the near future. The group also hopes to raise money to build a new concession stand and restrooms at the park’s ball field. -- Warren Scott

WELLSBURG — Members of the Wellsburg Baseball and Softball Association are the latest of many local residents who have stepped up in recent years to beautify or improve the city’s parks.

With the help of city crews, volunteers with the youth sports league have been working to install two new batting cages and eight soft-toss stations near the ball fields at the Betty Carr Recreation Site, a park overlooking the Ohio River near 17th Street.

Tom R. Diserio, a leader of the group, said the batting cages will be equipped with mechanical pitch devices while the soft-toss stations will have batting tees, though all may be used by coaches and others pitching to the youth themselves.

City crews have removed aging batting cages on the park’s tennis court and drilled holes for the new ones, and volunteers with the baseball association are slated to install the new ones in the near future, pending suitable weather.

Diserio said money for the batting cages was raised through a monthly drawing and other fundraisers held by the group.

He added the group hopes to raise funds for other improvements, such as handicap-accessible restrooms and a new concession stand, lighting and a water line to reduce the spread of dust when the field is dragged.

The association will be holding its second Purse Bash, an auction for 15 designer handbags, on April 10 at the Wellsburg Banquet Hall.

Doors will open at 1 p.m. for the auction, which will occur at 8 p.m. and also will be livestreamed on the group’s Facebook page.

Chances are $20 each, with tickets available there and in advance at Tommy’s Classic Touch.

There also will be a Chinese auction from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. that day, with tickets for it also available from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. there on April 9.

All who participate in the Chinese auction will be entered into a drawing for door prizes.

The baseball and softball association provides a recreational outlet for about 200 boys and girls, from pre-schoolers to teens. No one is turned away because of inability to pay, said Diserio.

The group is one of many that have been active at Wellsburg parks while also working to improve them.

Another is the New Day Christian Center, whose members and pastor, the Rev. Angel Adams, have led local youth in creating crafts, conducting science experiments and doing other free activities at the 4th Ward Park during several weeks in June and July.

The activities are open to all children and scheduled to coincide with free food distributions for youth held at the park by C.H.A.N.G.E. Inc., a Weirton-based community action agency.

The church also has used the park’s parking lot to hold movie nights featuring films with inspirational themes.

Members of the church and other volunteers, including 4th Ward residents Carla Davis and Judy Colley, teamed to beautify the park in 2015. Their efforts included painting the restrooms and shelter at the park, which is at the north end of Charles Street near 27th Street.

The park also is the site of the week-long Wellsburg Junior State Police Academy held each summer by Adams’ husband, Brooke County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Adams, with the help of many local law enforcement officers and other first responders.

Each day, boys and girls, ages 8-12, participate in calisthenics, work together as platoons in various contests and challenges and watch as local police, firefighters and ambulance personnel demonstrate various aspects of their jobs.

The program is set to return for a sixth year from June 14-18. The cost is $31, which includes the T-shirt and hat that comprise each participant’s uniform, lunch and other materials, though scholarships are available to those in need.

A veterans’ platoon, comprised of 13- and 14-year-olds who have participated two previous years, has been added.

Those interested in participating may call (304) 549-8442 or visit https://newdayag.com/junior-police-academy-application for information or to apply. The program is limited to 100 youth.

Located on Third and Charles streets, the city’s E.R. “Dick” Nichols 1st Ward Playground also has seen some beautification through the efforts last summer of Elizabeth Hamilton.

As a junior at Brooke High School, Hamilton painted a mural on a wall at the park’s shelter as a community service project required by the school.

The brightly colored mural depicts various wildlife and bears the message, “Help keep the parks beautiful. They live here, too.”

Over the years the park has been the site of a biennial reunion attended by many current and former residents of the 1st Ward. Organized by volunteers, the two- or three-day event includes live music, games and lots of food.

While Wellsburg’s parks are associated most often with summer, volunteers also have worked to provide activities at them in winter.

Efforts by 2nd Ward Councilman Paul T. Billiard and others to make outdoor winter activities available have included a temporary ice skating rink at the Betty Carr Recreation Site and a Christmas display at Central Park at 17th and Charles streets.

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