Was volunteer Roger Brandt really surprised at the unveiling of the “Roger Brandt Field” plaque at the I.V. Little League Closing Ceremony at the newly remodeled Jubilee Park baseball field June 10? “Absolutely!” exclaimed Brandt.
“I’m still not quite sure about what to say about it,” said Brandt. Those that know Brandt well had quite a chuckle at the baseball field when the tarp over the plaque was dropped and Brandt looked bewildered and afterwards was speechless.
Brandt explained why he had that reaction. When it was announced by Cave Junction Mayor Meadow Martell that the plaque was for him, Brandt turned and saw all of the people looking at him. He knew they worked hard and volunteered their time, money and equipment for the I.V. Little League Field, and they seemed to feel that he deserved the honor – it left him speechless.
“I think this article should be titled ‘Cave Junction can keep a secret,’” said Brandt.
Brandt humbly described his involvement in the updating of the baseball field and his other volunteer projects, “My role has been taking my skills and writing grants and helping with fundraising.”
There were many people Brandt wanted to mention that made huge contributions to the baseball field.
- Valley resident Janet Ewing from the Challenger League based out of Medford helped make the field access ADA compliant.
- Bryan and Brad Norris helped the city with the fencing and donated their own equipment and time to build the backstop.
- Ronnie Fuson brought his auger to help dig the holes for the fencing.
- James Guthrie welded the metal beams for the scoreboard frame.
- Richard Milner made arrangements for Pacific Power to donate their time to install the new scoreboard.
- Patrick Sherier worked with Pacific Power to take out the old light poles.
- Travis Bruno from Pro Electric wired everything for the new lights and now the I.V. Little League can run pitching machines and have a sound system.
*Rotary Club volunteers raised $23,000 and Four Way Community Foundation granted $15,000 to pay for dugouts and backstops.
“As a volunteer, I hear people say Cave Junction is full of the scrungiest people around – drunks and drug addicts – but I don’t know who these people are. I only know people working hard and volunteering to make their community a better place to live, better for kids, better for businesses. They use their energy and skills for the community,” said Brandt. “Now kids are excited that they have the best field in the area to play on.”
“I want kids to be proud of who they are and be enthusiastic to participate in programs that are all run by volunteers.”
So who is the man underneath the bright orange shirt? Brandt and his wife Patricia have been in Cave Junction for 25 years.
In the past, Brandt worked in the National Park Service at the Redwood National Park and Crater Lake. He said he worked in public education and one of his jobs was grant writing. He met Patricia in 1992 at Crater Lake and they married shortly after that.
When Mrs. Brandt got a job teaching at Evergreen Elementary School, they moved to Cave Junction. She taught second, third and fourth grades for more than 10 years. It was during that time Brandt was working at the Oregon Caves National Monument as the chief of interpretation and education. He managed the school programs, cave tours, website, newspaper publication and more.
Brandt retired in 2006 and when he had free time on his hands, he started putting a lot of effort into different projects and put his grant writing skills to good use. One project that he is very proud of is the restructure of the Parachute Loft at Smokejumper Base. Brandt says it takes him months to write a grant to the National Historic Landmarks. “Lots of hours are put in; it’s like writing a mini professional paper. The statements you make have to be accurate because they are under state and national scrutiny.”
Brandt is very passionate about history, old buildings and geology, and he is always working on a project. Some notable contributions he has made to the Valley are the historical markers at the Smokejumper Base and Rough & Ready Botanical, numerous Jubilee Park and Forks State Park upgrades, Oregon State Markers and Heritage Trees, Old Stage Park master plan and clean up, Westside Equestrian Trails, Kerbyville Museum history of Josephine County articles for the Illinois Valley News and much more. The total amount of local grant government program money that he has raised for the Valley totals $550,000 and the total amount raised for the baseball field was $150,000.
The motivation for volunteering his time is all about making the community a better place for children. “I want nothing but the very best for our kids. I want kids to be proud of where they live. In the long-run if they are involved in healthy activities, they are more likely to graduate, have a business of their own or go off to college.”
The next project Brandt is going to tackle is to help raise money for a new, 75 by 75 feet, all-purpose sports building at the high school. Currently the wrestling club uses a very tiny building next to the baseball field and parking lot that is called the Mat Room. He will be pursuing grants from the Ford Family Foundation and Oregon Community Foundation, along with trying to get business donations.
Another reason Brandt was speechless when he was honored with the Roger Brandt Field plaque is that he became emotional looking at all the Little League players out on the field for the closing ceremony. “All those kids, sticking it out and finishing the season. To me that’s a life building skill and I am honored to be a part of that.
“I feel I have a long way to go to earn that plaque.”