Quaker Oats employees fix up IVH baseball field
After several months of planning and preparation, a group of Quaker Oats employees from Cedar Rapids got to work on Thursday to restore the Iowa Veterans Home baseball field to its former glory.
Navy veteran Brooks Dechant has been leading the way on this initiative, along with other members of the Quaker Valor group, and all of their efforts and fundraising paid off on Thursday when they paid a visit to IVH.
From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Dechant and four other members of his group worked tirelessly to dig out the old infield and resurface it. In addition to re-doing the field itself, they also replaced the foul poles, put in a new flagpole and pressure washed the concrete surrounding the field.
Dechant said they started the project not knowing quite what to expect, having never done that type of project before, but with a few changes to their initial plan, they were off to a good start.
“We had a pretty good plan and we’ve had to make some adaptations and changes a little bit, but it’s coming along well,” Dechant said.
In addition to the work put in by the Quaker Oats team, Dechant said employees from their contractor, Greg’s Lawn and Landscaping, were also at IVH helping out, and multiple local donors and individuals made the project possible with their contributions.
Martin Marietta Quarry donated the infield material, and Dechant said Jake Rowley with Junk Relief Services had been extremely helpful throughout the process. Several other community partners donated funds for the project, including Mitchell Family Funeral Home, Johnson Lawn Care, Adland Engraving and Screenprinting and more.
“We had a lot of very generous people in the community,” Dechant said. “We’ve been very fortunate. Once they got word, it seems like everybody from the area was like ‘Yeah, I grew up playing there, what a good idea, how can I help?'”
The short-term goal, which was completed by the end of the day on Thursday, was to make the field playable again, but Dechant said they have other plans they would like to complete in the near future.
A local artist is going to paint a mural on the retaining wall behind the field, and a local company will be re-siding the field’s concession stand and equipment shed. Dechant is also hoping they will be able to get a concrete contractor to install a wheelchair accessible pavilion so the facility’s residents will be able to come and watch baseball games.
“Long-term, we want to do new fencing and new backstop, potentially irrigation. We’ve got a big wish list that just depends on how much money we can raise,” Dechant said.
While not every item on the wishlist will be completed right away, they plan on presenting a little league baseball tournament on Sept. 17 in the meantime to showcase the fixed-up field to IVH residents. Four teams will be invited out for the grand reopening.
Individuals and businesses who are interested in contributing can reach Dechant at Brooks.Dechant@pepsico.com.
Contact Susanna Meyer at 641-753-6611