Sun shines late at sports complex

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Kilgore’s using a little nuclear power to illuminate its streets – granted, Matthew Ball quips, the source is 93 million miles away.

Ball, the city’s maintenance specialist, recently celebrated the lighting of Kilgore’s first solar-power streetlight, up-and-running on South Commerce Street last week. As of June 5, the eco-friendly glow spotlights the crossing from the Whataburger Sports Complex to the parking lot at Driller Park.

City officials cut the ribbon on the new baseball fields in March and have been keeping an eye on traffic patterns at the site since – how fast drivers pass the recreational facility, how many pedestrians cross, how dark the roadway gets on moonless nights – while taking feedback from locals.

With the new light in place, “It addresses a number of complaints of safety issues for kids and parents using the fields at night,” Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck said.

A standard streetlight was, unfortunately, out of the question due to the proximity of Driller Park.

“Because of the way that park was built,” Selleck noted, “we’re not allowed to install any aboveground electrical poles. We couldn’t serve this without going underground – that would be extremely costly.”

He praised the city’s assistant director of public works, Mat Kronner, for crafting a workable solution in the solar-power lighted, which also becomes a green milestone for the community.

“He ended up having to do a lot of the design himself. He did an excellent job,” Selleck said, the new equipment installed by city crew members. “The only complication was trying to make sure we had the right type of throw so the light went a long distance across the street without necessarily going wide.

“We were just trying to light the crosswalk for the children.”

Kilgore Police Department’s solar-power speed cart has also been parked on South Commerce, helping drivers acclimate to the crosswalk and speed limit in relation to the sports complex.

– By JAMES DRAPER

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