By Terri Ferguson Smith / firstname.lastname@example.org
The Meridian Star
More kids who play baseball in Meridian will have an opportunity to play night games, thanks to the work of parents and local officials.
The lights are up and operational at Magnolia Youth Park as of Wednesday evening.
Wayman Newell, District Two Supervisor of Lauderdale County, said the process of refurbishing the long-neglected park has taken some time.
"It took three years to come together, but we've got it. We have the lights, we've got the fence. This will be the third year they've played out there. Now they can have night games too."
Magnolia Park is on 23rd Street near Magnolia Middle School and is owned by the Meridian Public School District.
Newell said the county spent $110,000 for the lights and they are state-of-the-art. They also have a 25-year warranty. The city will pay the light and water bills for the field.
There is still a need for bathroom facilities at the field, as they have to use portable toilets now.
"I'm looking at hopefully some suggestions to the city and I hope we can do a joint venture," Newell said. "You've got to do it in steps and that's where we are today."
Small businesses donated money to the project as well, said Percy Bland, who is a Magnolia Youth board member and co-founder of the league. About 125 children played baseball there over last two years and about 40 played soccer league. Work is ongoing to establish flag football.
"We wanted the kids in that area to have the opportunity to play baseball again because it was missing for 20 years in that area," Bland said. "It was a blighted area and we brought back baseball to that area."