Iowa quarry’s materials donation helps rehab ballfield at veterans home

The team at the Central Division’s Ferguson Quarry helped bring smiles to sports fans of all ages earlier this year. And all it took was a little bit of crushed rock. Benefitting most from the material donation are the veterans at the Iowa Veterans Home (IVH), a facility in Marshalltown that houses more than 500 aging veterans and their spouses. 

The fifth largest state-run home for veterans in the nation, the site just northeast of Des Moines covers more than 150 acres and requires significant effort to maintain during an average year. During the pandemic, at least one piece of the property – a ballfield – fell into disrepair. 

Catching wind of this, Brooks Dechant, a local Navy veteran and a member of the Quaker Oats VALOR Group, spearheaded an effort to help. On his list of groups to call for assistance was the local Martin Marietta quarry.

After speaking with Dechant, the Ferguson Quarry team pledged 150 tons of ag lime to help revitalize the field. The material would be used to create a new, even and safe surface for the baseball diamond’s infield. 

“This field has a strong place in Marshalltown’s history,” said Lisa Tichy, weighmaster at Ferguson. “It’s meant to provide the residents of the IVH a place where they can enjoy time outside and interact with their community.” 

On a single day in July, a group of volunteers led by Dechant and the VALOR group made the f ield playable again, laying down the new inf ield and working to fix fences and the field’s foul poles. Other improvements followed, and by mid-September the IVH field (also known as Valor Field) was host to a round-robin tournament involving three local youth baseball teams. 

Admission to the games was free, according to local media reports. Money was collected through the sale of concessions and IVH Valor t-shirts with all proceeds going toward future IVH maintenance and improvements. 

“The refurbishment of the IVH ballfield was an extremely rewarding project that would not have been possible without the generous donation from Ferguson Quarry,” Dechant said. “Our Quaker Oats VALOR team works on many veteran-focused initiatives throughout the year and that’s only possible because of cooperation and support from businesses like Martin Marietta.” 

Des Moines District Sales Representative Miles Fogelson coordinated Martin Marietta’s involvement in the project and said he was proud the company was able to offer assistance. 

“I think it’s neat that we were able to give back to those who have given so much,” he said. 

Tichy agreed, noting the IVH has played a special role in her family for generations. 

“I had grandparents and great grandparents live out the remainder of their years at IVH,” she said. “Our area is blessed to have such a great facility for veterans and their families.”