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June 2, 2020

5/22/2020 1:30:00 PM
Livingston field waiting for the call of "Play Ball"

You could feel the pride and the realization that some things are just plain worth waiting for.
You could feel it Tuesday morning when a group from Livingston gathered at the new baseball field that is well on the way to a first pitch ceremony next spring.
The baseball field was thought of over 30 years ago but the land was being farmed by the Jinkins family and it was not available. But the idea was there.
In 2017 Charlotte Jinkins passed away and the family was approached about a five acre plot that was flat enough to make a great place for a baseball field. Jack and Donna Jinkins then purchased the five acres from the Charlotte Jinkins Estate and approached the Village of Livingston about donating it for a field.
"When the village accepted the donation things started to come together," said Tom Brown, Village Mayor.
All projects need money to move forward and Sheila Ruchti of Community First Bank took the lead in making some calls. What happened was almost mind blowing.
"In 24 hours we had nearly $100,000," she said. That funding came from four donors, Schaefer Farms, Harry & Judy Reddy, Jim & Joyce Neuendorf and Bob & Nikki McCarthy.
"At that time we knew it was a sign to play ball," she added.
The giving did not stop there. The project started receiving not only money, but gifts of labor and material have surfaced.
Every project needs a few experts and Livingston found theirs in Greg and Jack Slack along with Curtis Zimmerman of MZ Construction. Greg and Jack shared their expertise of what a baseball field should look like and contain while Curtis went to work with his equipment.
"We have done several fields throughout the state," Curtis said, calling attention to the UW-Platteville football field, the UW-Whitewater baseball field and several ball fields in Portage.
"We jumped in to help the community," Curtis added.
And, as Curtis puts it, the whole community pitched in.
Jeremy Iverson ( JI Construction) has spent countless hours leveling the farm ground to prepare the site for the ballfield.
Joe Pettit (J & T Concrete) donated the concrete for the dugouts and took it a step further than planned. The dugouts are in ground. Patrick and Tim Loeffelholz of The Friendly Place also helped make these happen.
Ryan Pilling of Pilling Electric, donated the labor for the electrical work which the group hopes will include lights in 2021.
Ivey Construction is donating gravel and other material for the parking lot.
Local businesses Rock Church Construction and Jim's Building Center have expressed interest in helping to construct the future grandstand. The Iowa-Grant Lions Club and the Livingston Community Improvement Corporation have committed both labor and dollars to the project.
Retired attorney Jack Kussmaul donated the legal work for the village to get the land.
Delta 3 Engineers gave what the village officials call "a good deal" on the engineering and design and have been on call for any fine tuning needed along the way.
The field will be home to the Iowa-Grant varsity baseball team and the first pitch is expected next spring. Besides the team playing there the new scoreboard that came from the 8 Pin Tap Committee donation will be moved there. The field has ideal dimensions for high school with the left and right field lines 300 feet and 350 feet to dead center.
Besides baseball there is also room for the only soccer field in the IG district in the outfield and there will eventually be a walking trail around the field. Batting cages will be installed for the entire community to use.
Weather has been ideal for the project. "We attempted to get it started last year but it rained all the time," said Gary Stuckey, Village DPW. "We got more done in two weeks this year than we did all last year."
Countless other community members have stepped forward, helping in many ways. This has been an amazing project, showing what can be accomplished together by a small community.
There is still time to donate to the project. Funds can be sent to the Village of Livingston in care of the ballpark project. Members of the community will soon be able to donate to the project by purchasing engraved bleacher seats. Contact Sheila Ruchti (608) 485-0579 or Greg Slack (608) 778-1442 with questions.

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