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Stormy weather affects Miss-Lou parks, postpones games

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Tim McCann, Ron Rushing and Ron Bequette spread sand on the Carroll Jones infield Monday afternoon in response to damage done to the grass that was caused by Saturday’s Leadership Natchez Kickball Tournament.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — Tim McCann, Ron Rushing and Ron Bequette spread sand on the Carroll Jones infield Monday afternoon in response to damage done to the grass that was caused by Saturday’s Leadership Natchez Kickball Tournament.

NATCHEZ — A combination of heavy rain and powerful winds wrecked playing surfaces around the Miss-Lou on Friday.

The rain created a sloppy playing surface at Duncan Park for a local charity kickball tournament hosted by Leadership Natchez Saturday morning, while high-speed winds damaged the fences at the Concordia Recreation District 3 complex.

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat —  The fence to the tennis courts in Concordia Parish was also damaged.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — The fence to the tennis courts in Concordia Parish was also damaged.

The 2014 class of Leadership Natchez hosted its fourth annual kickball tournament on two of three muddy Duncan Park fields. Playing on the wet surface deteriorated the fields, and now Dixie Youth volunteers are rushing to ready the fields for Monday.

Leadership Natchez member Sessions Brown said Carroll Jones Field is the furthest from being repaired following Saturday’s tournament.

“The Sprague-Gousset Field looks better than it did when we got there,” Brown said. “We’re continuing to work with Dixie Youth to repair Carroll Jones Field.”

Dixie Youth president Jeff Webb said the field won’t be ready before Monday, which is when the 7- and 8-year-olds’ season begins on Sprague-Gousset Field.

“We’ve had to do some moving around,” Webb said. “We’ve arranged it so that the 9-12-year olds won’t play on Carroll Jones Field until April 21.”

Salvaging the grass on Carroll Jones Field is the main concern for the field. Cathedral High School football coach Ron Rushing volunteered to help repair the fields Sunday, and while traveling to work on the dirt again Monday, Rushing said he and others are trying to eliminate the “spongy” effect in the infield.

“The grass isn’t growing right now,” Rushing said. “The bed of roots are gone, and you’re not going to have grass there for some time.”

Webb fears Carroll Jones Field may be “grassless” for the season.

Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — City of Vidalia workers Johnny Brown and Lee Foley work on the scoreboard for one of the softball fields at Concordia Recreation District 3 complex. The scoreboard and the surrounding fence were damaged in Friday’s storms.
Ben Hillyer / The Natchez Democrat — City of Vidalia workers Johnny Brown and Lee Foley work on the scoreboard for one of the softball fields at Concordia Recreation District 3 complex. The scoreboard and the surrounding fence were damaged in Friday’s storms.

“The infield grass is laying dormant,” Webb said. “It’s not growing this part of the year because of the temperature. The Bermuda grass has been damaged. Most of everyone I talked to who has knowledge said that it’s not going to grow.”

Webb said a lack of communication led to the field’s current state.

“It doesn’t matter who points the finger,” Webb said. “It was a communication issue. At the end of the day, it’s my responsibility to look out for Dixie Youth. It’s aggravating to see your hard work demolished, but there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Brown said his son plays in the league, and he won’t stop until the field is repaired. Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce President Debbie Hudson said there’s no way the Chamber would leave an unusable field for the league. The Chamber sponsors the Leadership Natchez program.

“This is very important to all of us,” Hudson said. “We’re having good communication with Dixie Youth right now, and hopefully next year, we’ll have good communication before the event.”

Meanwhile, Vidalia parks and recreation director Johnny Lee Hoffpauir has combined the efforts of departments in an attempt to repair the high school and Dixie Youth fields “as soon as possible” in Vidalia.

“We have about 20 people working on it (Monday),” Hoffpauir said.

Because of the field conditions, the Vidalia High School baseball team changed its home contest against Marksville to an away game today, while the Vidalia softball team postponed Monday’s game against Marksville until April 15. Vidalia’s Dixie Youth leagues start Saturday.

“We’ll make a decision on Dixie Youth soon,” Hoffpauir said.