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Preston City is planning a celebration June 5, to open its splash pad and kick-off a new Pitch, Hit and Run competition. The celebration will begin with the competition at 10 a.m., and be followed by the splash pad party at from noon to 2 p.m.

The Pitch, Hit and Run Competition, is sponsored by Major League Baseball and will be free, said Preston City Councilman Todd Thomas. Participants pitch, run and hit for distance and accuracy. In addition to having local winners, these scores are entered in a database, offering the opportunity to go on to regional competitions.

The competition is open boys and girls ages 8-13. The competition “kinda went away for a while and is now making comeback. I did it when I was a kid,” said Thomas. “Good memories.”

The splash pad party will include photo booths, dunk tanks, bounce houses and snow cones. Food and drinks will be available for purchase, said City Councilwoman Allyson Wadsworth.

Thomas also noted that the city has taken suggestions from the public as well as the recreation board on how to best use Craner Field.

Suggestions include a pavilion for picnics, three youth-sized soccer fields, a walking path, and room for an indoor building with basketball court, all without removing any of the current trees or light fixtures, and while preserving one of the softball fields.

“Traditionally we are short on basketball courts in the area,” said Thomas. He also noted that fields can be marked in a way that allows them to be used for a variety of sports, and the indoor facility would be of use year-round. Much interest has been also expressed for facilities to play pickleball.

“It would be a year-round recreational facility and there’s still room for soccer and softball. The key to a lot of this is budget,” said Thomas. The city is hoping for possible federal funding, so Thomas urged the necessity for a plan. It was noted that plans are needed before funding can be sought from any source.

However, the city has budgeted $94,000 for the installation of a restroom and a pavillion at Craner Field this summer. Thomas has already found young men interested in helping with the pavilion to earn their Eagle projects. The city will help provide the materials for that project.

Preston City Council was pleased with the progress on plans to improve Craner Field, and hope to protect its open feel and make it a showcase for the community.

Thomas also noted that the city is marking its current tennis courts, in City Park, with pickleball markings.

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