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Cameron Baseball Fields To Close For Mining Work

Photo by Drew Parker Cameron’s youth baseball fields will close next month, per an agreement between the city and Murray Energy Corp., whose longwall mining operations are approaching the facility.

CAMERON — Youth baseball teams in Cameron will have to find another place to practice and play games as a local coal mine’s operations approach the city’s ballfields.

Murray Energy Corp. representatives met with Cameron Mayor Betty Scott and members of the Cameron Little League organization Monday morning to discuss a prepaid damage settlement settlement the city accepted from the coal company in March concerning the Cameron Recreation Park and baseball fields, which are located near Cameron High School.

Murray Energy spokesperson Gary Broadbent said the firm’s Marshall County Mine — formerly known as the McElroy Mine under previous owner Consol Energy — will begin mining near the fields next month, but he expects disturbances to the ballfields should be minimal.

“The Marshall County Coal Company confirms that it plans to mine in the vicinity of the (Cameron) baseball fields next month, as (the company’s) coal ownership predates the construction of those baseball fields,” Broadbent said. “Further, Marshall County has reached an agreement with the city of Cameron to ensure that our coal miners can continue to work in the area and that we minimize any disturbance to the baseball fields.”

City Attorney Christian Turak said it’s not yet known how long the fields will be unusable.

Chris Hartley, a youth baseball organizer in Cameron, said in a Facebook post that the league was informed Monday teams would have to stop using the park earlier than expected.

“When we pressed the issue, the Mayor informed us that an agreement had already been made between the city and Murray without input from council or the Baseball Association and we needed to be out of the park by May 9 … ,” Hartley wrote. “Therefore, all baseball and softball games will have to be played away and we will not have a place to practice. This has been the plan all along, but it has been previously communicated that the park would not close until July, which is after (the) season.”

Attempts to reach Hartley for additional comment were unsuccessful.

Cameron Mayor Betty Scott declined to comment on the matter, stating her office had been advised by legal counsel not to do so. She referred questions to Turak.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss it,” Scott said.

Turak said the agreement between Murray and the city is a prepaid damage settlement for possible damage to the baseball fields. He declined to release the amount of the settlement.

“There’s nothing the city could have done to stop Murray from coming to the ballfields. … They own the coal, and there’s a severance deed to use mine techniques including longwall mining to take that coal. Obviously, when you do any mining there’s some damage after that mining is completed,” Turak said. “Murray has agreed to put the ballfields back to the same state or a better state than they are currently in.”

The city is working with league organizers to find alternative facilities, according to Turak.

“The city is sensitive to the ball players and the people that volunteer their time and effort for the organization. No one wants to see this interfere with these kids or their season and the city is dedicated to doing anything it can to make this process easier. On the flip side, Cameron is going through some tough times right now, and any bit of money it can get is certainly welcome.”

According to Turak, a “council ordinance” is in place involving the agreement.

“The mayor made the decision,” Turak said. “Council is aware of it.”

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