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A field of dreams in Virginia


 Volunteers are helping to build Craig County^BENT^0027^EENT^s Recreation Complex on 18 acres.
STEPHANIE KLEIN-DAVIS/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 12/9/2012

BY ANNIE McCALLUM

The Roanoke Times

NEW CASTLE, Va.

--Deep in the heart of rural Craig County, a crew of volunteers is transforming 18 acres of sprawling land into the county's first sports complex.

What was just an open field several years ago is now a construction site. Look closely, and there's the outline of a baseball diamond.

In the outfield, deer and truck tracks dot the dirt, and beyond the infield dump trucks and bulldozers work hauling earth.

The $3.6 million project--organizers call it the Craig County Field of Dreams--will bring a four-field sports complex to the county of 5,200 people. The bulk of the undertaking is being done with volunteers and donations.

"We understand if we don't do it that way, it can't be done," said Randall Blankenship, a New Castle town council member.

Organizers said that spirit of altruism characterizes the small Craig County community, and they are hopeful that the first of the fields will be completed by spring.

"We got to be ready, that's all there is to it," Blankenship said. "It's unreal what we've been able to accomplish."

Standing on the gravel road leading to the site, Blankenship described organizers' vision. It's something akin to Salem's Moyer Sports Complex. The facility will have four fields, a two-level concession building with restrooms, a pavilion, access to Craig Creek and a walking trail.

Blankenship pointed at the site and the half-dozen construction vehicles. All donations, he said.

"You are looking at $500,000 worth of machinery," he said.

All but two pieces of equipment were donated, and there's a crew of more than two-dozen volunteers helping out. The project has hired one person to do excavation work. The site was a steep slope requiring significant grading. Officials said 50,000 cubic yards of dirt were moved.

The Craig County Recreation and Conservation Association, a group formed to lead the project, has received $342,609 in grant money and $599,100 worth of donations, including $15,000 from the town of New Castle. Most of the ambitious project's funds have come from volunteers and donations, though organizers are a long way from their goal and don't have a firm timeline for raising all the money. So far organizers have raised a total of about $941,709.