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Published: Wednesday, 10/19/2005

Woodmore: Phase 1 of athletic field work to begin

BY ERIKA RAY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The not-for-profit group that has been working to raise money needed to renovate Woodmore High School's athletic facilities is ready to put its plan into action.

Communities Achieving Goals for Extracurriculars plans to start the first phase of the project after Woodmore's last home football game of the season tomorrow.

"It will be wonderful to see dirt turned over," said CAGE president David Nevergall. "We think that it will be not only rewarding for those of us who have been working on it, but rewarding for the community too."

CAGE - made up of parents, school officials, and community members - have been working to raise funds for months for phase one, which is expected to cost $200,000.

When phase one is complete, the football field will be regraded, crowned, and tilled, and the stone track will be replaced with a new, eight-lane, all-weather track with rubber topping that would include long-jump, pole-vault, and high-jump areas, Mr. Nevergall said.

"We talk to the kids on regular basis, and they're pretty excited to have a place to run that's not on rocks," he said. "I'm sure it was great in its day, but it's well past its usable life."

The group started a telephone campaign about six months ago with the goal to have at least 500 people donate $500 toward the project as part of their "Kickoff Club," said Blair Miller, CAGE telephone fund-raising leader. Those who give $500 or more will have their names posted on a recognition sign at the stadium.

He said the group has called fewer than half of the residents living in the school district that's located in Ottawa and Sandusky counties, and have gotten more than 40 people to donate $500. But because many have donated less than that, Mr. Miller said the telephone campaign has yielded about $40,000.

When added to other donations and pledges, Mr. Miller said the group has raised about $100,000.

"We have had a fantastic amount of success," he said. "And there are many, many people we've not yet contacted."

Mr. Nevergall said that while members of the group are in the process of securing a line of credit for the project, he doesn't think they'll have to use much of it because fund-raising efforts will be continuing.

The project is being managed by Re-New Athletic Services of Gibsonburg, Ohio, and the design is being finalized by Poggemeyer Design Group of Bowling Green, officials said.

The track project is expected to be complete early next summer, while the football field will be ready by next year's football season, Mr. Nevergall said.

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 regrouped to compile new estimates for the projects after a $40,000 pledge from Coca-Cola Co. toward the project was secured.

The Woodmore Local Board of Education gave the OK back in December for CAGE to move ahead with the improvements as long as the group fully funds the project.

Additional plans - which all depend on fund-raising - include adding bleachers and fencing in the stadium and around the track, erecting an entrance building with rest rooms and an open area for eating, building locker-room facilities, and revamping the football practice fields.



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