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Rep. Owens visits Lowville area bat maker, sports center

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LOWVILLE — Daniel M. Myers has big plans for both of his two-year-old sports-related business ventures.

On Monday, the co-owner of RBI Bats and director of Double Play Sports Center got to share that vision with a fellow baseball aficionado: Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh.

“When we get our building, then we’ll have you back,” he told the congressman during a visit to the Shady Avenue center, which offers a variety of sports-related activities for both children and adults.

Mr. Myers, a special-education teacher and varsity baseball coach at Lowville Academy and Central School, in November 2011 secured a lease with St. Peter’s Catholic Church to use the gymnasium in the church’s former school for primarily evening and weekend activities.

However, his ultimate goal is to expand to a larger facility, having already developed a business plan for an 81,000-square-foot community center, including a 200- by 200-foot turf field, that would employ several full-time workers.

Mr. Myers told the congressman of plans to soon kick off a $100,000 capital campaign to help bring that vision closer to fruition and emphasized that the intent is to undertake the project through donations and grants from community organizations, not taxpayer funding.

“We’re looking to establish our own identity with programs and foundations that are tied to our mission,” he said.

Mr. Owens said he enjoys visiting organizations that are taking the initiative to help improve the quality of life in their communities without relying on the government.

“It’s just people working hard and making people better,” he said. “I want to support people that do that.”

The congressman also visited the home of RBI Bats on Patty Street in New Bremen, where Mr. Myers’s business partner, longtime cabinet-maker David L. Lapp, also crafts wooden bats.

The company, using a pre-programmed lathe, converts local maple and ash wood into baseball bats, then takes them to another local woodworker to add the RBI Bats insignia and any desired custom lettering.

“Everything from start to finish is all right here,” Mr. Myers said.

Mr. Owens, who received a commemorative bat from the company owners, spent much of his time with the local baseball coach discussing his background with the game, including stints as a Little League coach and participant a couple of years ago in the Congressional baseball game.

That led Mr. Myers to suggest that RBI Bats — which recently reached a deal with the Watertown Rams to be the team’s official bat — be some type of sponsor for the annual Washington, D.C., contest.

“If you bring your own lumber, they know you mean business,” he said.

Mr. Owens had planned to visit the two businesses in late January but was forced to cancel due to inclement weather.

Prior to his Lewis County stops, the congressman on Monday morning stopped at Benchmark Family Services in Watertown.

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