Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

January 3, 2013

Park cleanup slated

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — While a baseball diamond at Community Park sustained some damage during recent high winds, fans of the sport need not worry about the upcoming season.

"Everything will be done before baseball season starts," said Jeff Althoff, Effingham Park District director.

The east section of the bleachers at Paul Smith Field were flattened Dec. 19 when winds of more than 50 mph caught the overhang.

"(The wind) caught the structure just right and it bent over backward," Althoff said. "It's not old enough for something like this to happen ... this was a first for us."

The overhang was finished about a year ago, but will need to be replaced before the beginning of high school baseball season in late March.

While the flattened bleachers are not salvageable, the diamond's south section was not damaged.

Cleanup should begin within a week, and the Park District plans to take the necessary steps to ensure this doesn't happen again.

"We're very fortunate it happened at this time of year, when no one was using it," Althoff said. "No one got hurt. That's the main thing."

Althoff told Park District commissioners Wednesday that he met with an insurance adjuster to assess the damage. Moreover, the director said work would be done on the third base side to prevent a repeat of last month's damage.

"We are going to take the necessary steps to make sure the same thing doesn't happen on the third base side," he said.

Althoff said no cost estimates had been prepared, nor had it been determined if either the architect or contractor was at fault. But Park Board president David McDevitt said Wednesday the district would likely seek some form of redress once fault was determined.

"We will be pursuing all avenues necessary for losses we sustained," McDevitt said.

RCM Unlimited Construction of Effingham built overhangs on both sides of the field as part of Paul Smith Field renovations that also included a brick wall underneath the backstop. RCM owner Richard Marshall was unavailable for comment Wednesday evening.

Althoff said the district planned to hire JCR Construction of Effingham to do the reconstruction work.