The latest JE Dunn Construction project in Weston is nearly complete.
On Friday, Sept 7, prior to the start of a home football game, the West Platte School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its new softball stadium at Benner Park.
The official unveiling of the stadium won’t occur until Sept. 22 when the Bluejays host their annual softball tournament.
Friday’s ceremony brought back former players like Claire White and Danette Shepardson, each were members of the program’s inaugural team in 1996. Former coach Mike Lowe, now the district’s cross country coach, was also there.
The band performed the school’s fight song, while the cheerleaders and dance team handed out rally towels and cracker jacks for the ceremony. In addition, Polar Oasis provided free snow cones to those who braved the light rain that fell.
“I hope these girls realize how lucky they are to be at a school that invests, first in their education and second, in their extracurriculars that provides opportunities for them to learn lessons that go well beyond this field or this time in their lives,” West Platte coach Bailee Giger told the crowd that assembled behind home plate, some standing, some sitting in the new bleachers.
The project is the second for JE Dunn, the company that also built the district’s football stadium and press box/administrative office. The $2.5 million dollar project passed by the board in May helped pay for the new softball field, along with other improvements throughout the district.
“It is quite an improvement on what we played a lot of years ago,” said White, formerly Claire Elsea, who resides in Parkville. “I was on the first team. We had never had softball here before and that was pretty cool, but I never imagined this. This is really awesome.”
The new field features an all-turf infield — which will mean no stains on the white uniforms — but the outfield is still natural grass. Weather issues last week caused for a delay in the arrival and installation of sod in the outfield.
Lowe, who guided the program for three years and another six as an assistant, remembers how cavernous the original stadium was — sharing the baseball field. Back then, there were no temporary fences as you see now on fields that are played on a baseball diamond.
“It is nice to come out and see the improvements and see what Coach Giger has going,” Lowe said. “We harken back to the good old days playing on the baseball field. We might have won a few more games without 315 feet to cover.”