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Gary Waters, Hamilton County Department of Education Assistant Superintendent
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Students at East Hamilton Middle-High can add peanuts and Cracker Jack to their list of back-to-school supplies this year.

That's because the school's long-awaited baseball field is expected to be ready for the 2014 season.

Gary Waters, who oversees facilities for Hamilton County Schools, said Friday he has spoken with county engineers and the project is expected to be out for bid soon.

Waters cautioned, though, that students should not expect fancy amenities -- or even bleachers. They better plan on bringing their own snacks.

"Lights won't be included, a pressbox is not included or bleachers. It's just basically to get a field that can be used for practice, and hopefully day games," Waters said.

The field has about a $220,000 budget, so officials will look for bids that offer the most bang for the buck.

Hamilton County Commission Chairman Larry Henry said Friday the field has been a long time coming, but he is pleased that student athletes finally will have a home field.

"They got the funding to get the field in place and get the fence up. They will have a field comparable to the softball field there," Henry said.

More than half the cost of the field has come from Henry's commission discretionary money.

He gave the boosters $50,000 last year, and another $75,000 this year from his annual $100,000 discretionary fund.

Steve Garland, head baseball coach at East Hamilton, said the team is "ecstatic" and ready to play ball.

"Everyone's so excited. It's been a real challenge for the parents, the players and the coaches to be kind of a team on the run, a homeless team," Garland said. "Sometimes the back of my pickup truck looked like a portable athletic equipment store."

Contact staff writer Louie Brogdon at lbrogdon@timesfree or 423-757-6481.