When Grantsburg Baseball Coach Pete Johnson came to speak with the school board members this last Monday, he had a lot of wonderful ideas to share when it comes to his dream of the Jorgensen Youth Ballpark in front of the Elementary School. Since last Fall, he has been trying to receive some funding from the Grantsburg School District to make this dream a reality.
At the meeting, Pete started off by saying that this year, kindergarten through 12th grade, he had 130 boys playing baseball with 51 home games that were scheduled. He wants to take the diamond closest to the highway at the elementary school and turn it into a showpiece for the district. He said it is the first and last thing people see when they come to our district. Johnson said, “People driving on the highway are going to see that (the ballpark) and they’re going to remember, Grantsburg’s that place with that cool little ballpark.” This spring, there are approximately 30 fourth grade kids playing on that field, and he also wants them to have a nice field that they are proud to play on.
He started last year and received funding from the school board to place a new fence around the field. He got the fencing placed and he is ready to move on with phase two. He stated that just having that fence has made a large difference, not just for looks, but also for the kids that play on the field. Just last week, one of the kids (from Frederic) were actually able to hit it over the fence and Johnson said, “That’s why I put a short fence. It gives them something to shoot for, and almost none of those kids will hit a homerun but every single one of them will think they can.”
Phase two of the Jorgensen Ballpark is to work on two enclosed dugouts and a small grandstand behind home plate. On the back of the grandstand will be a large sign saying, ‘Jorgensen Park.’ Johnson brought in an estimate for the schoolboard members to look at, and hopefully approve, so he can start construction on the ballpark this July. He admitted that the construction will be spendy, approximately $27,000 for all of the construction materials. That estimate did not include the cost of labor, however, Johnson stated that he was going for a grant outside of the school to help with the costs of labor.
After phase two, Johnson was saying that he would also like to have several more phases. He would like to eventually get a fencing façade at the top of the fence and to get an announcer’s booth set up there for the little kids’ games. For the parents, there is a little slope behind the fence overlooking the field and he would also like to place little benches into the hillside for parents to watch their kids play ball. He said, “It’s a perfect view, into the hillside like that, you don’t have to look through any fences, you don’t have to look through any sun.”
For the fence running along the backside of the field, Johnson would eventually like to get signage for that as well. He would want to advertise the older businesses from the area such as the Alpha Store and Jed’s Northstar. Renee Rombach thought that it was a really cute idea to do that. Eventually, he would like to get an old face clock out in the field because every old ballpark has an old clock- he hasn’t quite figured out how to do that yet.
Johnson doesn’t just want the field to look nice for the district, he wants the kids to feel proud of their field, proud of the game and have a great atmosphere while they are playing. The school board loved his plans and his dream of the ballpark; however, they do not have all of the funding necessary to completely cover phase two.
They did have a little over $15,000 that they could start Johnson off with to begin the construction. They approved the $15,640 for Johnson to purchase and start construction on the two dugouts for Jorgensen Park. As for the grandstand, Johnson stated that he could try and get additional funding elsewhere to complete that part of phase two. In July, construction of the two dugouts should begin on Jorgensen Park after the youth ballgames have ended this year.