Stan Rister Stadium, Kelso, Wash.

Following a significant pledge, the Stan Rister Stadium turf project appears to be fully funded.

The final check remains to be cashed, but Kelso Babe Ruth president Travis Keele emailed a group of people involved with the project Wednesday morning to proclaim the mission accomplished. The final pledge is from former major league pitcher and Kelso graduate Jason Schmidt.

The project, which is in conjunction with the Cal Ripken Foundation and Apex Foundation, is expected to begin construction during the second week of June. Construction will take six to eight weeks, Keele said.

Keele and a few others embarked on the fundraising effort over two years ago, and obtained grants from the city and county, plus several private donations through a GoFundMe account.

“It’s been quite the journey,” Keele said Wednesday afternoon.

Kelso city manager Steve Taylor said in January that the city has spent around $900,000 on upgrades over the past two years, including projects still to be completed.

One of those is to expand the parking at Tam O’Shanter Park, where Rister Stadium is, and create more two-way traffic flows.

A January estimate for the project totaled $490,910. That includes over 42,000 square feet of synthetic turf with installation, drainage pipe, rock, sand, and other necessary costs.

Rister is used by Kelso High School, Babe Ruth Baseball, and other groups. The stadium was built in 2005, but lacked necessary drainage systems and was unplayable during the Spring of 2017. Drainage will be a significant part of the project, and the hope is that the field will be playable under most late-winter and spring conditions.

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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