Softball returns to Lufkin thanks to safer post-tornado park

By Morgan Thomas - bio | email

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) – It's finally time to play ball at Kit McConnico Park. Last December's tornado destroyed many of the park's facilities causing the city to cancel early spring softball.

Only two months ago the park still looked tornado-ravaged.  The light poles were still bent toward the ground, debris from the concession stand and restroom facility was still lying everywhere.

"Now it's safe. Folks can be around it without problem of something falling on them," said Steve Floyd, City of Lufkin Public Works Director.

Lufkin Public Works Director Steve Floyd has spent the past few months working hard to bring softball back to Lufkin.

"The four new fields - they're playable, the lights are up, the fences are fixed and they're ready to go," said Floyd.

However, the park is still not in pre-tornado condition. Butch Cantrell, League Supervisor at the park, is just glad to be back at work.

"It's good to get opened back up. We still have a long way to go with the buildings," said Butch Cantrell, League Supervisor.

The concession stand and restrooms still need repairs.  So, for now a temporary snack cart and porta-pottys will suffice, but the players get to play and that's what's important.

"Everybody's excited to get back out here and hit. We've got these new fields. New lights and we're just pumped up," said Jeff Branter.

The remaining repairs need a final "okay" by city council. That also includes rebuilding the old restrooms at the south end of the field.

"...[the old restroom building] was poor construction... Without reinforcement. So the tornado completely wiped it out," said Floyd.

Floyd says the repairs took longer than expected, but the anticipation is sure to make this season, one to remember.

The Lufkin Public Works Director says canceling the spring softball season cost the city additional revenue.

However, a state softball tournament could help recoup the losses.

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