Milton-Freewater group works for place to play

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MILTON-FREEWATER - There's no place to play in Milton-Freewater.

Oh, there are ballparks and football fields and gyms, but there's not one concentrated location, complete with parking, for the kids and families in town to escape to for baseball, football or wrestling.

And some local residents have decided that needs to change.

"Our goal is to make sure every kid has an opportunity to play sports, because sports are such a foundation for kids," said Mark Scudder, who's helping spearhead the effort to build the Milton-Freewater Sports Complex. "Sports are a builder for kids in every way, shape and form."

Scudder and other parents have come together to bring the athletic park to town.

Their vision, once completed, is a cloverleaf park with fields for baseball, softball, T-ball and Little League and youth football fields. They also want to build an indoor facility for fundraisers and other events, as well as youth wrestling.

And the biggest part?

A parking lot for 1,000 vehicles.

The vision is planned for the corner of Grant and Cemetery Road in Milton-Freewater, which is currently wheat fields.

Although ambitious, Scudder and the other involved parents and youth sports supporters know there's a timeline involved. If the baseball and softball fields alone are complete by 2014, he'll be happy.

"We're ambitious, but we're realistic," he said. "We don't have some crazy goal to spend $10 million dollars and be done by next spring. This will be a phased project."

And with at least $2 million likely needed for the project, Scudder is looking forward to the project's first fundraiser this week, a spaghetti feed, silent auction and poker run Saturday at the Milton-Freewater Junior Show/Posse Grounds, off Highway 11, by Bordertown Feed & Supply.

His goal is to raise $5,000, which will be enough to pay for drawings, form an official 501(c)3 nonprofit and pay for a trained grant writer.

A recent donation of $2,500 has already helped the group chip away at the goal, Scudder said. That donation will pay for the construction drawings, which are coming from Cal Ripken Jr. Design, he said.

Local motorcycling club Hardheadz is organizing the poker run, while John Kain is managing the spaghetti feed since, Scuddard said.

The poker run begins at 3 p.m. and is $5 per hand.

The spaghetti feed is from 5-8 p.m. It is $6 for adults, $4 for children 5-11 and $2 for kids under 5.

Scudder, a Milton-Freewater native, has a history in construction and understands that the plan will take some time.

And he's willing to put it in, to see his own children play on fresh fields.

"I know from my own experience in Little League and youth baseball how much fun I had, and how much fun I want all kids to have," Scudder said.

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