By Chris Fish
MELBOURNE -- One group of residents is asking for a little more community support to secure its goal of creating a new dugout for the Melbourne High School baseball team this season.
The group is in need of $4,000 to finish the new dugout, which is being created after the Brevard County School Board deemed the former state champion's dugout, locker room and utility room as "inhabitable" last year.
The School Board based its decision upon outdated and unsafe "structure and equipment" and said that it did not have the funding to repair or open new facilities for the team.
In response to the closure, Van Jackson, a team parent, 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."
"We have five players committed to D-1 schools," he said. "That's pretty rare. You may see one or two players on a team, so they need a good dugout and not just a chain-link fence."
Within seven hours of reaching out to the community in the fall, Mr. Jackson said he was able to secure nearly $7,000 of the $15,000 needed for the project.
However, with the first game of the season scheduled for Feb. 4, Mr. Jackson said there is still much needed in order to complete the project.
The $4,000 is still needed for the dugout's functionality, such as electrical work, doors and other supplies, while the labor is being provided free of cost by various members of the community.
"The help from the community has just been outstanding," he said. "To get us to this point, we would have never gotten the project off the ground without it. Everyone involved with this has just bent over backwards to help."
So far, John Frazier, from Frazier Engineering Inc. of Melbourne, has committed to providing 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 of the 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, Paul Gagnon of Sea Level Carpentry provided all of the framework, structure and roofing free of cost; and Sherwin Williams has donated 25 gallons of paint for the project.
Mr. Jackson said he also wanted to thank Gary Geiser, building official for Brevard Public Schools, for his help securing a permit for the project.
Checks can be made payable to the Bulldog Diamond Club, in care of Melbourne High baseball coach Pete Donovan.
For more information, call Van Jackson at (321) 288-0176.