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Heavy rains cause sinkholes at Summers Field Park

By Rachel McDaniel Two sinkholes developed at Summers Field Park last week near the waterfall feature with the largest one reaching 8 to 10 feet deep. According to Barnesville city manager David Rose, a four-inch storm drain collapsed on top of the pipe and caused the sinkholes. He said the area has been barricaded off with caution tape and it has been scheduled for repair. Heavy rains is expected overnight Wednesday and all day Thursday so more problems could arise (or sink). ’We can’t get an excavator in the area until it dries out some but we plan to get it fixed the first of the week,’ he said. ‘It’s a big pipe that collapsed and it runs under the football field all the way to the other side of College Drive. The sinkholes are where the storm inlet is and the issue was caused because of all the rainfall recently.’ From Jan. 1 to Feb. 3, a total of 14.35 inches of rain have been recorded at the city reservoir and Rose said it is completely full right now. So far in February, 5.95 inches of rain have fallen and the heavy rains contributed to the sinkholes at Summers Field. Summers Field has been used as a park and to host various events for more than 100 years and after extensive upgrades, was re-opened to the public in August 2015. Originally called the Barnesville Circus Grounds, the area was used for large events, including the Young Buffalo Wild West Wonder Show held in 1911 which featured celebrity of the day Annie Oakley. In 1912, the city of Barnesville purchased the property for $1,200 and named it after George L. Summers, a former mayor and fire chief in Barnesville who donated $500 to develop the site. Other prominent citizens donated portions of adjacent properties ‘to insure abundant space for driveways and parking.’ In the early 1900s, Summers Field was a site for fairs, circuses, traveling shows, July 4 festivities and it became a central location for athletic events as well as a drill grounds for Gordon cadets. A racetrack was even added to Summers Field in 1914. In April of 1913, the Gordon baseball team played several exhibition games against Ty Cobb and his fellow baseball players. President Franklin D. Roosevelt ‘threw the switch’ during an August 1938 speech at Summers Field to symbolically electrify rural America. A historical marker was placed at Summers Field in October 2009 to commemorate his visit.

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