(Posted March 15, 2022)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
The ROC is up and running in West Jefferson.
Built at a cost of nearly $2 million, the Roughrider Optimization Center (ROC) is a 120×160-foot open-span steel building located between West Jefferson High School and the baseball and softball fields.
It provides year-round practice space for the school district’s athletic teams and marching band and a place for school projects that need a large open space. The ROC opened its doors to students and coaches on March 7. An official grand opening for the public is scheduled for April 11 at 6 p.m. before the school board meeting at 7 p.m.
On March 14, the school board officially accepted the optimization center from the West Jefferson Athletic Boosters, who donated the facility to the school district. Richard Dickerson and his family spearheaded the project. The facility was built entirely with donated funds, labor, supplies and equipment at no cost to Jefferson Local Schools.
“The board is very grateful to Mr. Dickerson and his family, the Athletic Boosters and all who have contributed to this project in any way,” said board member David Harper. “The ROC is a great addition to our school’s complex.”
Eighth-grade basketball coach and booster club President Kenny Love told the board the facility was expected to take one year to construct but was two years in the making due to the pandemic.
“This blossomed from an idea to reality,” Love said. “Dick Dickerson brought it to us, so it really was his baby. A lot of shortfalls were covered anonymously.”
Originally, the estimated cost of the facility was $500,000. In the end, it cost $1.9 million. That amount was covered with $600,000 in cash donations and $1.3 million in in-kind services and supplies.
“It puts us on par with other schools across the state. It’s a great facility,” Love said.
Superintendent Bill Mullett emphasized the ROC was built at no cost to the school district and said organizers are still accepting donations. The structure currently has no running water.
The donation campaign for the project kicked off in 2019 with a $100,000 commitment from the Dickerson family. In March 2020, Dickerson unveiled a draft drawing of the ROC which has a maximum capacity of 200 people. At that time, commitments of more than $300,000 were received by the booster club.
In September 2021, Madison Health made a $100,000 donation, payable in five $20,000 annual installments.