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Baseball field in Arkansas dedicated 21 years after tornado

July 5, 2018
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In this Wednesday, July 4, 2018 photo, Tamara Kelley puts out American flags at the new College Station Community Sports Complex in College Station, Ark., before a ribbon cutting ceremony for the complex. The town struck by a tornado 21 years ago finally has a new baseball complex in an area devastated by the storm. (Staton Breidenthal/The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette via AP)

COLLEGE STATION, Ark. (AP) — A town in central Arkansas struck by a tornado 21 years ago finally has a new baseball complex.

U.S. flags were put out Wednesday for the Independence Day dedication of the College Station Community Sports Complex.

The March 1, 1997, tornado was among a dozen storms blamed for 25 deaths across Arkansas. The tornado destroyed an old ballpark that was home to the championship-winning youth baseball team in College Station, a town of about 400 people near Little Rock.

The youth team meanwhile played at Interstate Park in Little Rock while supporters long worked to get funding for a replacement field near the original site.

A $240,000 state grant required the community to raise matching funds for creating a regulation-size baseball field. Donations from the public also helped pay for the field, dugouts, a parking lot and bleachers that can seat about 100.

“This is a culmination of many years of hard work by this community,” said Austin Porter Jr., president of the Progressive League of College Station, the civic organization that acts as the town’s governing body. “We just thank God this came to fruition.”

The community has begun fundraising for the second phase of the project, which will add a concession stand, restrooms, a scoreboard and ball field lighting. The youth team, which is part of the Little Rock League, now has its own practice field and can sponsor home games once again.

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This story has been corrected to show the tornado was in 1997, not 1971.

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