ELMORE - For the first time in half a decade, track meets are being held at Woodmore High School.
The generosity of a small community that loves high school athletics led to the construction of a $250,000 all-weather track.
A nonprofit group called CAGE (Communities Achieving Goals for Extracurricular) raised the money through private donations.
Vicki Selhorst, who is the organization's communications officer, said the group has raised $190,000 in just four years.
"That really is a lot of money," Ms. Selhorst said. "Woodville and Elmore are really small towns and it is a small school. But sports are important out here. Schools can't pay for everything anymore. They don't get as much help from the government.
"This community has its heart in the right place," she said.
Ms. Selhorst said CAGE owes $60,000 on the project and is continuing to raise additional money through various efforts.
The organization held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on April 22 to officially dedicate the track. The event was held prior to a high school tri-meet between Otsego, Lakota, and Woodmore. The ribbon was cut by Woodmore Superintendent Jane Garling.
"We're very excited. It's been a long time coming," Ms. Selhorst said. "We were close to having the money last year."
The new track encircles the football field. The previous track was an old cinder track believed to have been built along with the stadium in the 1940s. Although the track had been refurbished, it became so worn that athletes had not used it in five years.
"The kids did not have a home track meet for five years," Ms. Selhorst said.
The new track is made of rubber and has eight lanes.
Ms. Selhorst said she is particularly looking forward to hosting the Suburban Lakes League track and field championships next year.
She pointed out that the track is open to the public.
"They paid for it and they should be able to use it," she said.
CAGE was formed in 1999 but really found its footing about four years ago, according to Ms. Selhorst. She said one of the group's founders is its president, David Nevergall.
"That's when we got the momentum," Ms. Selhorst said.
She said the group also has a maintenance fund for the track's upkeep.
"We didn't want to build the facility and just hand it over to the school," she said. "We want to protect it. It's an investment."
In March, CAGE raised $17,000 through a silent auction.
"We still have a lot of fund-raising to do," Ms. Selhorst said. "We have a very ambitious schedule."
Ms. Selhorst said CAGE encourages members of the community to volunteer their time with the organization. "I'm pretty proud of what such a small group of people could do."
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