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Published: 5/25/2005

Woodmore: All-weather track expected by summer

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

A new all-weather track at Woodmore High School could be complete as early as this summer if the not-for-profit group that proposed the project is successful with its fund-raising efforts.

The Woodmore Local Board of Education in Woodville gave the OK back in December for members of Communities Achieving Goals for Extracurricular Inc. to move ahead with phase one of their plan to renovate the track and stadium, as long as they fully fund the project.

The group has been raising money since then, but started a "Kickoff Club" this month to garner support and donations for phase one, said Jay Molter, the group's communications chairman.

"We're trying to have people be a part of this kick-off campaign," he said. "We welcome any gift. It's important that we can get started this year so people can see the progress."

CAGE has raised about $57,500 through donations, gifts, pledge drives, and a dinner dance for phase one so far, but the goal is to have 500 people or groups donate at least $500 each by early June. Those who give $500 or more will have their names posted on a recognition sign at the stadium.

CAGE was formed in 1999 to work on upgrading the extracurricular facilities within the Woodmore school district, and the track-and-field facilities fell at the top of the renovation list. The group attempted to begin the renovation project in 2001, but couldn't get adequate funding for construction to start.

Then about 50 CAGE members - including parents, coaches, school administration, and community members - regrouped recently to compile new estimates after Woodmore High School principal Hobart Johnson secured a $40,000 pledge toward the project from Coca-Cola Co.

The original plan was to begin the renovations by regrading and crowning the football field before winter hit so the ground could settle before the spring seeding, but fund-raising efforts were delayed, Mr. Molter said.

So the group decided to start on the second part of phase one: construction of an eight-lane, all-weather track with rubber topping that would include long jump, pole vault, and high jump areas, and a regulation soccer field within the football field.

"We can still move forward with the project, but we would have to switch the order around for fear of [the football team] playing on mud and clay in the fall," Mr. Molter said. He said the group will start on the football field after the team plays their final game next school year.

Athletic Director Drew Grahl said it has been becoming more and more difficult to have students accept an invitation to compete on Woodmore's stone track, and thinks an all-weather track would open up more doors for the district.

"It's very exciting for us," he said. "It's a great opportunity for not only the student-athletes, but our entire community as well. It would be a wonderful addition to our school district."

Once the track is constructed and the football field regrading is complete, the group will begin raising more funds for three additional phases to renovate the facilities in the district. Plans include:

Phase two: Add more bleachers and fencing in the stadium and around the track;

Phase three: erect an entrance building complete with restrooms and an open area for eating;

Phase four: Build locker room facilities and revamp the football practice fields.

The phases do not have any projected start dates because Mr. Molter said they depend on successful fund-raising efforts.

"I think that they're a very ambitious group," Superintendent Mike Eaglowski said. "I think they're going to accomplish their goals because they're just really determined."



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