Foundation stone laid for renovation of Highway 135 Youth Sports Complex in Kilgore | Local news

KILGORE — Longtime volunteers, city officials and dozens of local youth athletes prepared to begin renovations on the Highway 135 Youth Sports Complex in Kilgore this past week.

Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremony represents a multi-year effort to breathe new life into the facility, which is showing wear and tear after decades of use. It also coincides with the Kilgore Youth Sports Association’s 30th anniversary of first using the sports complex and its 40th anniversary as a non-profit organization.

“It’s great to see you all in attendance for the groundbreaking for the renovation of the softball and soccer fields,” Mayor Ronnie Spradlin told the crowd. “I want to give a special thank you to all of you in the audience for helping to put it together 30 years ago.

“(This project) is another example of Kulagur protesting and doing things on its own without any help from the government.”

The softball and soccer fields were first built in the early 1990s by volunteer labor and local donations. They have been operated and maintained over the years by the Kilgore Youth Softball Association and the Kilgore Soccer Association. In recent years, the city Made a plan Taking ownership of the facility and helping to revitalize it.

In 2022, the city became the owner of the facility while two regional sports associations were responsible for day-to-day operations.

City Manager Josh Selleck said how grateful he is that local sports organizations in Kilgore have committed to holding bake sales and other activities more than 30 years ago to raise money to buy the land for the complex. He said that if they did not do this, the land would no longer be available for development.

Selleck then called on Steve Brown, a longtime member and president of both sports associations, to talk about the history of the project.

“I was the president of football and the president of softball in the same season. We were growing both places,” Brown said. “The soccer board came to me one day with a great plan and said we can do it. I told them we can’t do it on our own, but we can do it with (the softball association).

“We had a meeting (and) we were discussing the pros and cons, and finally, somebody stood up and said, ‘Let’s stop worrying about the football kids and let’s stop worrying about the softball kids.’ To worry about the children of Kilgore.

Brown added that early efforts to purchase property and build core areas were a direct result of community integration.

“We had help from parents and a lot of people, and we built these things ourselves without borrowing money. That’s how it happened, and it’s a big thing,” he said.

In October, the city began Securing funding for planned development, which was initially discussed in 2018 and 2019, but was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, City Council members approved a contract with Heartland Park and Recreation for lighting and field construction at the sports complex not to exceed $1 million.

At the meeting, Parks and Facilities Director Keith Jorgen said the first $700,000 of the $1 million budget will be spent on lighting. The amount will pay for four new light poles around the soccer fields and 12 new poles around the softball fields, which will replace the old lighting system. It will include three safety modules for parking lots.

“Area 1 will be pushed to make room for a competition-sized area,” Jorgen said at the meeting.

“It’s going to be a new baseball field from the ground up. It’s going to be $160,000. The remaining $140,000 is going to be a contingency for the remaining three fields. Together with the Kilgore Youth Sports Association, we’re going to make the most of that money.” “Do our best. It will go toward field 3 backfield repairs, fence repairs and replacements, as well as irrigation repairs and replacements as needed.”

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