Julian Gaytan, 8, shoots hoops at the playground on Thursday outside the Kirtland Youth Association in Kirtland.
Julian Gaytan, 8, shoots hoops at the playground on Thursday outside the Kirtland Youth Association in Kirtland. (Alexa Rogals — The Daily Times)

KIRTLAND —A new grass activity field is in the works for the Kirtland Youth Association after the group received a $50,000 grant from the Public Service Company of New Mexico.

The youth association is one of 24 nonprofit agencies in New Mexico and Texas to receive a grant from PNM Power Up Grants. The program distributed $500,000 to organizations for various community projects.

On Thursday, San Juan County Commissioners and representatives from local Navajo Nation chapters, San Juan United Way and the San Juan Generating Station attended a grant presentation in the parking lot of the Kirtland organization.

The Kirtland Youth Association is one of four agencies — and the only one in the Four Corners — to receive $50,000 from the PNM foundation. Twenty agencies each received $15,000 grants.

It's a dream come true to build the playing field for youth sports like football and soccer, said the Kirtland association's executive director, Charles Kromer. Members of the organization have worked hard to build the facility for the community, he said.

"We've trying to make it as successful for the community as we can," Kromer said.

At the presentation, children participating in the association's summer program sat in the bleachers set up in the parking lot. San Juan Generating Station Plant Manager Tom Fallgren opened the presentation by talking about the program and the effect the youth association has in the community.

"The Kirtland Youth Association is dedicated to serving the youth of the San Juan River valley with educational, recreational and social programs," Fallgren said.

Kromer said the new playing field will be located on the 1.33 acres west of the Kirtland building. The field has been a part of the master plan for the space since the building was constructed in 2011.

Work to install an irrigation system with sprinklers is expected to start in October. Crews in March 2015 are scheduled to add the grass sod, and the field is planned to be finished by late August of that year.

County Commissioner Margaret McDaniel said it's important for the community to have safe areas where children can play and have fun.

Kaydence Yazzie, 7, of Shiprock, plays on the playground swings on Thursday at the Kirtland Youth Association in Kirtland.
Kaydence Yazzie, 7, of Shiprock, plays on the playground swings on Thursday at the Kirtland Youth Association in Kirtland. (Alexa Rogals — The Daily Times)

"I know how important it is to have youth events someplace that is educational and where the kids can grow and learn responsibility," McDaniel said.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627 and jkellogg@daily-times.com. Follow him @jkelloggdt on Twitter.