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Helper may pitch new idea on ballparks: joint purchase of dirt

Helper's mayor and council check out samples of infield dirt as they listen to Jeff Cisneros's presentation. The stuff is not "dirt cheap."

Sun Advocate associate editor

Jeff Cisneros brought a bunch of real dirtbags with him to Helper's city council meeting Thursday.

Now let's be clear about that: we're talking about real plastic bags filled with real dirt - samples of red dirt that might be applied by the ton to the city's American Legion Field this summer.

Cisneros, whose labor of love has been Helper baseball for the past 20 years, came by to talk with the council about what has been done to fix the field for the next season and what remains. The city's premier park was closed for repairs last summer, meaning that home games could not be played at home.

"The fields looked good before the snow fell," Cisneros said. The infield and outfield have been leveled and walls and bleachers have new paint. What remains is a few touches such as putting in bases and replacing several hundred feet of wind screen that had been damaged by wind.

The infield also needs a new layer of that special red dirt. It turns out that this stuff is not "dirt cheap." It goes for about $50 a ton, and on top of that it costs about that much to truck it in. The samples Cisneros brought to the council were from Arizona.

"It seems that we're spending three or four thousand dollars every two years," commented Mayor Dean Armstrong. True, Cisneros agreed. "The wind blows it away," he said.

Cisneros said it might be possible to lay down a few inches of local dirt for a base and then put on a layer of the red stuff. He added that he doesn't know what it will cost yet. "I need to measure the field before I start throwing numbers out," he explained.

Those numbers should be available by the February council session, so the funding will be on the agenda. There's also a little more research that might be done before then, also.

The mayor noted that the county, other cities and the college are also in the market for infield dirt. It may be economical to get together for as a group to purchase and ship the dirt by rail instead of by truck. Buying and shipping in bulk could save some bucks for all concerned, Armstrong suggested.

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