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HomeSportsLights On at Ernie Wever Park

Lights On at Ernie Wever Park

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Ernie Wever Park and the youth that play on its fields won’t be left out in the dark, thanks to a donation from Withlacoochee River Electric Cooperative (WREC) in collaboration with Florida Drilling and Geopoint. WREC and Florida Drilling and Geopoint donated and installed 12 poles and nine lights at the park’s four baseball fields, which previously had no lights.

WREC employees volunteered their own time on Saturday, May 18, for the light installation at Ernie Wever Park. “WREC is deeply committed to enriching the communities we serve,” stated David B. Lambert, executive vice-president and general manager of WREC.” By providing the necessary lighting infrastructure, we aim to create a safer and more inviting environment for recreational activities, fostering a sense of community pride.”

Christopher Linsbeck, director of Hernando County Community Services, stated, “WREC has generously donated the materials, electrical connections, and professional installation for 12 light poles to provide necessary lighting for four previously unlit T-Ball fields at Ernie Wever Park. These four fields have historically been the last remaining fields within the complex that have been limited to daytime usage only.”

“The impact of this upgrade will immediately improve the overall experience for the community’s youth participants and most importantly, make the gameplay conditions safer with improved visibility,” Linsbeck said. “The Park’s Department is very appreciative of this significant donation, and we believe the community will continue to benefit from these upgrades for many years to come.”

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Ernie Wever Park has a total of eight baseball fields that house the activities of local T-ball and HYL squads. This is in addition to other amenities for citizens such as football fields, basketball courts, concessions stands, and an activities center. Leopards Baseball and Hall of Fame HYL Head Coach Tim Sims noted that the addition of the new light fixtures to the four baseball fields was impactful because, “Traditionally speaking, those are the leagues with the most teams, and they were needing it because of the amount of teams they had.”

Coach Sims was appreciative of community members like WREC, Florida Drilling and Geopoint, and local businessman Blair Hensley for making the project happen. Hensley, whose son has played T-ball at Ernie Wever for three years, aided in the installation of the park’s lights as he was responsible for “connecting the dots,” and providing food from Florida Cracker to feed those who put up the fixtures.

In a meeting with WREC’s David Lambert (General Manager) and David Gonzalez, Hensley brought the lack of lights at Ernie Wever to their attention. With many of Withlacoochee’s employees having children who play ball at the park, about 35 members of the organization chose to devote their Saturdays to the project out of their own good will. Hensley attributes it to the “culture of Withlacoochee.”

WREC Board of Director Member Tricia Bechtelheimer also has children who play T-ball at the local park. Bechtelheimer joked that she saw “this is [her] chance,” and pushed for the lights to be put in. This was despite Ernie Wever not being within Withlacoochee’s service area. She noted that the park had “kind of gotten neglected over the years” before the WREC’s employees chose to donate their time over the weekend. Bechtelheimer states that there will also be new lights put in for the soccer practice field at Ernie Wever sometime this summer once WREC receives the master plan from Parks and Recreation.
Ultimately, the donation of the lights is great for Hernando’s youth because, “It just allows them to play and gives them extra time during the spring season […] This will allow them to extend their practice,” said Coach Sims.

WREC installs the light poles at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, May 18, 2024. [Photo courtesy of WREC]
WREC installs the light poles at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, May 18, 2024. [Photo courtesy of WREC]
WREC installs the light poles at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, May 18, 2024. [Photo courtesy of WREC]
WREC installs the light poles at Ernie Wever Park in Brooksville, May 18, 2024. [Photo courtesy of WREC]

Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch
Austyn Szempruch is a Graduate with Distinction, University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. He's written numerous articles reporting on Florida Gators football, basketball, and soccer teams; the sports of rugby, basketball, professional baseball, hockey, and the NFL Draft. Prior to Hernando Sun he was a contributor to ESPN, Gainesville, FL and Gator Country Multimedia, Inc. in Gainesville, FL, and Stadium Gale.
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