By Chris Fish
MELBOURNE -- Despite its past accomplishments on the field, the Melbourne High School baseball program could face some heavy hits this school year.
Earlier this year, the Brevard County School Board deemed the former state champion's dugout, locker room and utility room as "inhabitable," as a result of outdated and unsafe "structures and equipment," forcing the closure of each area.
With the closure of the team's facility also comes another problem: the School Board says it does not have the funding to repair or open new facilities for the team.
"This team went to state the year before and were undefeated last season, only to lose a fluke game in the playoffs," said Van Jackson, a team parent. "Now, we have at least four or five players committed to a D-1 school, and it would be a real shame for them to sit with a chain-link fence surrounding them (this season)."
In response to the closure of the facilities, Mr. Jackson has spearheaded a campaign to raise funds for a new dugout and locker room facility for the team, which he is calling the "Melbourne High School Baseball Dugout Club."
Within seven hours of reaching out the community, Mr. Jackson said he was able to secure nearly $7,000 in funding for the project.
However, Mr. Jackson said a total of nearly $15,000 will likely be needed for the project.
Currently, Mr. Jackson said that he and his crew have the labor and manpower ready for the construction, but the purchase of supplies is still needed.
"We are turning to the community for its help," Mr. Jackson said. "We have the laborers, who are agreeing to this work pro-bono."
Mr. Jackson said that he plans to add a plaque to the school campus, honoring all participants who helped create the new dugout.
So far, John Frazier, from Frazier Engineering Inc. of Melbourne, has committed to provide all engineering and architectural requirements at no cost; Mike Willis Roofing & Construction LLC of Melbourne will be the general contractor of record; Doug Connor of D.C.I. of Melbourne has committed to provide all site work and building removal; Jack Pennella of Best Electric of Palm Bay, Inc., will do electrical work; and Hamilton Masonry of Palm Bay will provide all concrete and block-work.
In addition, Todd Trapani and his team at All Pro Garage Doors of West Melbourne will be donating two 8-foot garage doors, including all labor and materials, while Sherwin Williams has donated 25 gallons of paint for the project.
"These community-minded individuals are making such a huge difference, and we appreciate every one of them," Mr. Jackson said.
Mr. Jackson said the dugout must be completed before Jan. 31, 2014.
Checks can be made payable to PNC Bank, 305 Fifth Ave., Indialantic, Fl., 32903, in care of Bulldog Diamond Club.
Donations of construction material, such as blocks, concrete, lumber and roofing, are appreciated.
For more information, call Van Jackson at (321) 288-0176 or (321) 722-9996.