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Posted: August 29, 2013 9:00 p.m.

Miracle League project progresses

The Newton County Miracle League field has been a true community-based effort.

Supporters worked to get the project on the county’s 2011 SPLOST list, and it’s received plenty of additional help and donations during construction. It’s also provided a financial boost to 23 local businesses that have earned a combined $420,328 for work on the project.

Project Consultant Tamara Richardson gave a project update to the Newton County Board of Commissioners last week, in advance of a vote to accept a bid to build a metal roof on the complex’s concession building.

Miracle League fields are specially-designed rubber softball/baseball fields for special-needs children, and Covington is having one built at City Pond Park.

Metal roof bid

Construction continues on the concession building and park entrance for the field, and one of the next steps is to place a metal roof on the building.

The Board of Commissioners received bids for the roof but tabled them at the request of Commissioner Levie Maddox, who wanted the board to consider choosing a local business to install the roof even though the low bid was from an outside firm.

After Richardson’s presentation, Maddox made a motion to accept the low bid, even though it wasn’t local, of $31,000, by Loganville-based Paul Kent Construction.

Oxford-based Outback Companies had a bid of $35,500, while Covington-based SteelCo Buildings had a bid of $35,650.

The bid covers the cost of the roof and its installation, as well as trim, gutters and downspouts.

Project update

The field is still set to have its grand opening in 2014, but Richardson said she didn’t know when construction would be completed.

Construction started in September 2012, and the facility was originally supposed to take eight to 12 months to complete, but rain has delayed work, Richardson said. However, labor is being provided by the Georgia Dept. of Corrections, so no extra costs are being incurred there.

Construction is estimated to cost a total of $1.63 million, with $1.5 million coming from the 2011 SPLOST – via a construction loan from Newton Federal Bank - $100,000 coming from a state grant, and $36,592 in other donations. Richardson previously said free labor would save between $500,000 and $700,000 in costs.

Not included in that total is a special-needs playground that will be paid for entirely by community donations. To date, Richardson said the playground has received $175,221 in donations. The playground would be different from traditional handicapped-accessible playgrounds.

In addition, the project has received $491,107 in general donations since 2009.

Besides the Miracle League field, which is smaller than a traditional field, special-needs playground and concession and accessory buildings, other recreational baseball fields are planned if funding allows.

According to the Newton County School System, there are 2,538 special-needs children in local schools; however, Richardson has said previously the Miracle League field is expected to draw from a 60-mile radius, which would reach into surrounding counties.

Local businesses

While local companies haven’t worked on every aspect of the project, Richardson said $420,328 has been spent with Newton County-based businesses for the parking lot, landscaping, utility work, irrigation and other work. More money is expected to be spent locally in the future.

Several companies have also donated work to the project or given discounts on items, including utility infrastructure, stone, playground equipment and lighting. Several local restaurants have provided food, which is used to feed inmates every Thursday during construction.

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