The baseball fields at Valley Fork Park are unsafe to use for this year's Edgar Martin Classic Beast of the East baseball tournament, Mayor Gene Saunders announced at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Saunders, who also chairs the Moundsville Parks and Recreation board, said due to the flood that saturated the 12th Street area late Monday and early Tuesday, the Marshall County Health Department has determined the fields cannot be used. The fields are littered with too much debris, mud and water to be cleaned up in time for the tournament, which is slated to begin Thursday.
According to Saunders, the health department found a dangerous amount of bacteria on the grounds and determined it would take two days of sunshine to dry out for the field to make it safe for cleanup. It also was reported that crews had found at least a dozen copperhead snakes in the park that had relocated from flooded areas, although Moundsville Fire Chief Noel Clarke said a few had been killed Tuesday.
"My concern is the health and safety of the people," Saunders said. "We had no other choice. It's just an unfortunate thing."
Saunders said he made calls to the Moundsville Baseball Association on Tuesday in an attempt to inform organizers of the change. He was not successful in reaching them, but noted the baseball fields at the East End Recreational Complex are still available to host the tournament, which brings thousands of people from all over the country to the area.
"It is not canceled, it has to be moved," Saunders said. "I'm sure they'll work out a plan."
Saunders said if the area does not experience more rain, cleanup of the fields will begin Thursday and could take a week to finish.
The July 7 fireworks to be set off from Valley Fork Park will not be affected by the baseball fields' closing, and the grandstand at the neighboring Marshall County Fairgrounds will still be constructed in time for the event, City Manager Deanna Hess said.
Council also responded to the announcement that the TeleTech Customer Care Management office in Moundsville will cease operations Sept. 20, saying the closing is a "terrible loss" for the area. Hess said she was informed of the closing Tuesday and did not have more information on the decision.
"It's a big loss to Moundsville," Saunders said after the meeting. "To see a business of that caliber close - that's a lot of jobs. I hope it is not long (before) we have another business move into the building."