Letter to the Editor:  Stepping Up to the ‘Plate’



In 1995, a group of motivated community members recognized the need to make significant improvements to Merchants’ Park. Two committees were formed to raise funds and make improvements, so contributions would stretch as far as possible.  According to initial documents, the group to solicit donations included Gib Sprout, L.D. Elarton, John Hartshorn, Gary Peyton, and Rick Akers. They were respected businessmen who were not afraid to ask others to contribute to the project. And that committee raised over $160,000 in cash donations and thousands more in in-kind contributions of dirt work, soil, rock, discounted products and services.  These contributions made a difference in the project to make Merchants’ Park a point of community pride again.

A second committee of unsung heroes donated their expertise and labor to the project. Several of those who contributed MANpower over countless afternoons and weekends have moved away. A few more are now gone completely; among the very best were Gib Sprout and Larry Smith. With Wayne Stiles’ passing on December 17th, we have lost another hardworking, community-minded citizen that rolled up his sleeves for Lamar. While Gib Sprout may have been the business brains of the operation, Wayne designed most of what we see at Merchants’ Park today.  He worked hand-in-hand with LaVoy McCorkle to complete the complex, acting as foreman to a long list of volunteer day laborers. Merchants’ Park wouldn’t be the same without Stiles’ design or McCorkle’s masonry work.

Based on a list kept by Gib Sprout, other volunteers who came to help included John Hartshorn, Larry Romine, Jerry Bates, L.D. & Scott Elarton, Greg LaSage, Dan & Brett Olson, Andy Wyatt, Rick & Robbie May, Rock Cousins, Phil Forney, Keith Ruck, Bud & Curtis Hartshorn, Doug & David Harbour, Randy May, Gene Cruikshank, Pete Frost, Mike Renken, Bobby Ward, Scott Crampton and LCC Baseball.  This is certainly not the entire list of who contributed sweat equity for the project, but it represented a substantial portion of them.

When the accompanying hitting building was completed in 2000, Wayne Stiles, LaVoy McCorkle, and Gib Sprout completed the locker rooms and storage area to take the structure from an empty metal building to multi-use space for the Lamar Community College baseball and softball teams.

Anyone who knew Wayne, Gib, Larry, or LaVoy see them as everyday men who loved Lamar and were willing to sweat to make great things happen. As I look at my generation and those coming into maturity now, I pray that we can be just as passionate about making Southeast Colorado a better place with our time, treasure & talents.

Rest in peace, Wayne.  I hope others follow in your footsteps and WORK to make Lamar great.

And LaVoy, as the last of those dedicated Merchants’ Park men who were willing to sacrifice countless hours to make something BETTER, we thank you.  We will remember you.

From Anne-Marie Crampton
Conifer Circle, Lamar

Filed Under: Letters to the Editor

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