NESPELEM - In Special Session, April 14, the Colville Business Council unanimously approved a contract with the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation to utilize $400,000 in grant funding to rehabilitate the community baseball field in Nespelem.

“We really appreciate the work you have done with this, and the work that is about to start,” said CBC member Jack Ferguson. “I played softball on that field back when it was in good shape, and I know others in this room have too. I don’t want to date anybody, especially Joe, who might have been playing on there in the 80s, but we really appreciate this. It will really improve the downtown Nespelem and give the kids something to look at, be proud of and actually use.”

The Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County, Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and Boys and Girls Club leaders from the three Colville Reservation club met with CBC during the CBC Management and Budget Committee, April 14.

“We’re excited to be part of this project,” said Chuck Brady of the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation. “The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation was founded about 20 years ago by baseball Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. when the Ripken family lost Cal Ripken Sr. to cancer. The Ripken family wanted to keep the legacy of Cal Ripken Sr. alive and they wanted to use that legacy to help children across the country. We’ve been working in sports-themed programs to reach out to kids as a hook, if you will. We have focused a lot on education, character development and life-lesson programming for kids all designed to help young people across the country prepare to live productive, meaningful lives.”

The partnership comes through the Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation’s relationship with the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County, who previously partnered with the Colville Tribes to launch Boys and Girls Clubs in Nespelem, Keller and Inchelium.

The foundation had worked with the Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County to build a previous ball field, explained Brady, and when the Colville Tribes and the Snohomish County Clubs received funding through a competitive Youth Athletic Field grant from the state Recreation Conservation Office, the club called on the foundation’s expertise.

“We have assembled a national team of really high quality field contractors and some really good suppliers and vendors to help us get this done the most economical rate we can,” said Brady. “The group is called Sports Field Incorporated. We asked Sports Field to look at this particular field, kind of give us their thoughts. We knew the budget that we have to work with. They did a great job to come up with a conceptual plan including a lot of the improvements that we think will be a ball field that the reservation will be proud of and something kids will spend many years having fun and growing, learning through sports. I think you will be very, very proud of project when it is done. We hope it will become a shining star in the community for the kids. We are just happy to be a part of it.”

While the foundation will complete their 100th field this year, the Nespelem field will be the first field the foundation has completed in Indian Country, said Snohomish County Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Bill Tsoukalas, who noted the improvements will include a new grass infield, replacing the existing grass outfield, installation of a new irrigation system, new fencing, new dugouts and new immunities leading to and from the field.

The state grant totals $350,000 with a $50,000 match from the Colville Tribes.

Upon completion of the project, Brady explained, the foundation aims to partner with the community.

“Kids in the community may needs uniforms, or kids in the community may not have access to balls, mitts, batts. We’re going to help with that. We’re going to help with coaching clinics, everything you need to really for your community to provide a great experience for your kids out there. It’s more than building a field. A field is the start of it, but we are most excited about the longer term partnership we can have with the community and touching the lives of kids in a positive way.”

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