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Ben Salango at Shawnee Park (copy)

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango uses a bullhorn to round up children for the Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex groundbreaking in December. The Kanawha County Commission voted Thursday to buy lights for the new complex.

The Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex will be equipped with 12 light towers to accommodate after-sundown soccer games and practice sessions when it opens in July, thanks to a vote on Thursday by the Kanawha County Commission.

The commission had expected to buy the lighting system at a later date, but needed to act now, due to the ahead-of-pace progression of construction at the site, while it is still possible to move the lighting fixtures into place without damaging turf, walkways and other improvements. Otherwise, the added expense of renting a giant crane or helicopter would be required to erect the new light towers.

Among those making use of the new lights will be soccer teams from across the state taking part in competition for the Friends of Coal Cup, a tournament to be held Nov. 17-18 at the Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex, Commissioner Ben Salango announced during the meeting. Between 100 and 150 teams are expected to take part in the tourney, Salango said.

Salango also announced on Thursday that he is among the investors backing HD Media’s recent purchase of the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

“I will be abstaining from any votes regarding the newspaper,” which sold about $180,000 worth of legal notices and other forms of advertising to the county last year, Salango said.

In other business, the commission allocated $100,000 of table games income to the Clay Center to support Kanawha County schools students taking advantage of cultural and educational events held there. Last year, more than 14,000 students from Kanawha County attended programs at the center.

Gloria Rhem, director and treasurer of the Booker T. Washington Community Center at London, appeared before the commission to ask for $10,241.58 for repairs to the facility. After listening to Rhem describe the veterans support, children’s art, senior fitness, open gym, family game night and children’s feeding programs hosted there, the commission, at Commission President Kent Carper’s suggestion, voted to give the center $15,000.

While many organizations appear before the commission seeking financial assistance for worthy programs, Matt Stoddard of Gilmer County, commissioner of USA Softball of West Virginia, attended Thursday’s meeting for a different reason. Stoddard presented a $1,000 check to the Shawnee Park Multi-Sport Complex Foundation to help pay for the development of the complex.

Stoddard said he would like to host a number of tournaments at the new complex’s lighted, turfed fields in coming months. A total of 1,048 teams are affiliated with USA Softball of West Virginia, Stoddard said. Last year, 370 teams came from outside the state to take part in weekend tournaments held in West Virginia, he said.

Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelhammer@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-5169 or follow

@rsteelhammer on Twitter.

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