Sports complex damaged by strong windsApril 10, 2020
By ALLEN LAMAN
JASPER — Ken Buck remembers it sounding like a train chugging past his Jasper home.
He’s sure that the loud surge of wind was the same one that came bursting through the Jasper Youth Sports Complex on Wednesday night, leaving narrow trail of destruction along the park’s Babe Ruth League baseball fields.
Regardless of whether a tornado or a powerful straight-line wind shot through the complex, the damaging gusts of violent air caused what Buck believes will soon be determined to be tens of thousands of dollars in damage, if not more.
On one field, parts of the backstop were folded like a bendy straw. Two sets of aluminum bleachers that each sit more than 100 people were lifted from behind the backstop to the outfield — mangled and contorted as they bounced hundreds of feet across the ground, finally landing near the center- and right-field warning track.
“It kind of just crushed them,” said Buck, who is the park department director. “Like a car wreck. Like somebody just smashed them up. It’s bad.”
On the other field, a piece of siding was torn off the press box, and the fence that stretches down the third baseline was bent, as was the backstop. A nearby tree was also snapped in half.
No games are currently being played at the fields due to COVID-19.
Buck explained that the financial extent of the damage is currently unknown. Representatives from the park department’s insurance company will inspect the damage on Monday.
“Those bleachers are expensive and they’re just crushed,” Buck said. “And putting those fences back up is gonna be expensive.”
Just outside the small stretch of rubble, though, much of the park is in fine shape. It seems that whatever tore through the Babe Ruth League fields — which are used by teenagers age 13 to 15 — was acute and confined to a slender channel. Other park facilities across the city are also in good shape, Buck said.
The fields opened in 2006 and had previously never sustained this level of damage.
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