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Softball Complex opens

The City of Greenville, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday evening, opened the newest addition to its array of commerce-drawing attractions when the Greenville Softball Complex was christened.

Bartow Driver, president of the Alabama Softball Association (ASA), was the keynote speaker during the grand opening.

"I have been involved with the ASA for 25 or 30 yearswe used to hold district tournaments in Greenville," Driver said. "This new complex will do great things for the community."

Driver, and also other speakers, compared the facility to Montgomery's Lagoon Park.

"This park will be a tremendous asset for the city," he said. "It will draw many people from across the state, bringing their money with them

they will stay in the motels here, eat at the restaurants here, buy gas here

the bottom line is they will spend tax dollars here."

Driver said his organization has a long history of working with Greenville and that tradition will continue.

"We will do everything possible to make things happen here," Driver said. "You all, as citizens of Greenville, should be very proud."

Jeddo Bell during his invocation before the ceremony, spoke of his feelings for Greenville.

"I am so excited about this complex, and about Greenville," Bell said. "I am originally from Andalusia, and I used to think it was the greatest place under the sun

now I realize that Greenville is the sun!"

Mayor Dexter McLendon spoke of his memories involving baseball and softball in Greenville.

"The greatest times of my life were at Day Memorial Park, when I was coaching Dixie baseball," McLendon said. "Thanks to Bartow, and with his help, we can greatly improve the economy here in Greenville.

"I would like to thank several people for their work on this project, starting with the Greenville City Council and the leadership of former Mayor Ernie Smith," he said. "About a year ago, Mayor Smith turned this project over to Councilman Steve Norman, who at the time was Commissioner of Parks and Recreation."

McLendon said the project had brought all City departments together as one big unit.

"The building, streets, inspection, horticulture, parks and recreation, police and fire departments have all worked in unison to bring this dream to a reality," he said. "And this facility will be well-used

it will bring a lot of people into the City."

Councilmember Steve Norman said he really had no idea, at the time the project was started, just how much work would be involved in it.

"I just thought it would be simple

get some land, and build some fields," Norman said. "It involved a whole lot more than that."

Norman said the project actually started when the City began looking for a site in 1994.

"In 1997 we bought the land, and we began moving earth in 1998. We had grass planted and sprigged in 1999, and last year (2000) was really an active year for the projectthe building, fencing and lighting was all put in at that time."

Jerome Harris, director of Parks and Recreation, was very proud of the facility.

"This has been a long time coming," Harris said. "People have been asking me what the complex will be calledas far as I am concerned, it will be called the Greenville Softball Complex, that is unless the Mayor tells me differently."

The park was officially christened when Mayor McLendon threw the first pitch to Rhett Idland, who wears the number 12 jersey for Merle Norman Cosmetics.

Idland hit the ball all the way to the left field fence, landing just inside the fair/foul line.