WOOD RIVER - Midwest Members Credit Union presented a large novelty check for $10,000 to the Tri-City Baseball League of Wood River, Roxana, East Alton and Bethalto Tuesday morning (they presented a smaller real check as well).

The money was a continuation of the credit union's dedication to contributing to its community - especially the municipal baseball league, which asked for the credit union's help in 2016 and received $15,000. Bethalto Boys and Girls Club Executive Director Kathy Wilson said the money last year was used to purchase more catching equipment for children playing in the league, which increased safety for the young players without increasing the fees for them to participate.

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"It allows us to do the things we couldn't do and keep the fee affordable to families living in the communities," Wilson said, describing Bethalto the "fourth leg" of the Tri-City name. "We run a quality program, which allows whoever wants to play to play. We are not a select league."

East Alton Mayor Joe Silkwood said more than 60 teams play within the league, with 12-15 teams for each agency. Silkwood said the league allows children from across Wood River, East Alton, Roxana and Bethalto to be able to play baseball with each other without worrying about traveling long distances.

"A donation like this is so important, because it allows us to get quality safety equipment," Silkwood said. "It's important for kids to be able to play baseball around here, and we provide a very affordable 12 game season."

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This donation from Midwest Members Credit Union may go toward more safety equipment and possibly even small portable scoreboards to take from field to field, a representative from the East Alton Parks and Recreation Department said.

Members from each city's park and recreation department were at the Midwest Members Credit Union location at 101 Wesley Drive in Wood River at 10 a.m. Tuesday to receive the check alongside Wilson, Silkwood and Wood River Mayor Cheryl Maguire.

Midwest Members Credit Union Executive Vice President Lou Bicanic said the league approached the credit union's board in 2016 seeking some support for new equipment, including uniforms, bats, safety gear for catchers and other gear the team provides for players.

"We wanted to support the league," Bicanic said. "So, we infused it with $15,000 last year, and our board of directors thought it was important to continue that support this year."

Teams for the Tri-City Baseball League form each February, and anyone interested in enrolling their children is invited to call the parks and recreation departments of East Alton, Wood River or Roxana or contact the Bethalto Boys and Girls Club. Teams have already been created this year, but there may be a few openings and exceptions for special cases.

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