November 2, 2006--Posted at 7:00 p.m. CST
MARMADUKE, AR--For years, the Marmaduke Park has served as a community meeting place. A place where residents came together and bonded while playing baseball and softball.
However, last year because of April 2nd's tornado, the town didn't have a place to congregate. Up until five years ago, Marmaduke Mayor Nileane Drope had a tradition of playing softball every season in the town's league.
"This park means a lot to me, because I played ball here when I was in school," said Drope.
It's a tradition she shared like many other Marmaduke residents with her kids.
"All five of my kids were raised here. They all played ball," said Drope.
That's why when April 2nd's tornado hit the town's community center and baseball fields, the town's morale took a hit.
"It's hard to describe. You looked at it and it was one big mess," said Drope.
Holdups with insurance and finding the needed materials put the project on hold nearly seven months. However, now construction is in full swing and brick by brick the town is building back with the help of volunteers.
"You wonder why God does that, but he has a reason. I think it was to teach us all to work together," said Drope.
With the concession stand well under way, the city hopes to begin work on the community center in the next month. They believe the entire ballpark facility will be ready to go just in time for a date that has become special to the residents of Marmaduke.
"For everything to fall back in shape, hopefully by the end of March when ball season starts. We're going to kick off and play ball here," said Drope.
The town's goal is to not only build back the park and community center, but to make it better than ever, so that this summer residents can resume the yearly tradition.
"We'll all be together again. Doing what we always do," said Drope.