Scoreboard, dugouts, soccer field on WJ to-do list

Improvements in athletic complexes throughout the Jefferson Local School District are drawing rave reviews from students, parents, staff, officials and visitors, according to Athletic Director Rich Haskins.

Haskins updated the school board during their June 9 meeting on projects at the middle school and high school and provided suggestions for future enhancements. He said the department has received many compliments on the school and athletic complex.

“When I think back about all the projects we’ve had and think about all of the skills and labor our friends have donated, we’ve saved the district thousands of dollars,” Haskins reported in detailing a two-year process including new building construction,  installation of an electronic reader board, and bleacher improvements.

A new pole barn was built in the stadium area and a new field house and concession stand was constructed. The athletic director said the parking lot was redesigned to increase safety for Friday night football games. A multipurpose room in the field house is used year-round.

“The district purchased an indoor (batting) cage, which comes in very handy,” added Haskins. “The front of the building is the concession area. It’s a major upgrade from what we’ve had in the past, and I think revenue has doubled from last year.

“The most recent construction project completed was new visitor bleachers funded by our athletic boosters. We decided we wanted to enclose them with a nice metal kickboard and that was completed last month. Last school year, we put in a handicap accessible ramp (on the home side bleachers).”

Caps were purchased for home bleach-ers three years ago; two years ago they were sealed and handrails installed. A new speaker system went in at the football complex, siding was added to the front of the press box, and the visitor’s side concession stand was improved.

The baseball field received a new batting cage two years ago, which is used all summer. A new bullpen is on the construction schedule, new dugout bleachers were built, and a video tower provides an area to film football and soccer.

“As for future/potential projects, we need to replace the scoreboard,” continued Haskins. “We’ve hit and cut underground lines, spliced and patched, and kept our fingers crossed.”

Approximately $20,158 was appropri-ated for a new wireless score board system that is expected to arrive by the end of June. The track needs to be resealed and the tennis courts need to be renovated, as illustrated in pictures of cracks snaking their way across playing surfaces.

“We have some serious problems with the tennis courts,” Haskins said. “There are serious issues with the playing surface with cracks and more cracks. On three courts you can see where the net posts are starting to come up.”

Repair estimates range from $14,550 with a one-year guarantee to $18,450 with a three-year warranty.

Funds were approved over a year ago for fencing and dugouts for the middle school softball field. Haskins said he would like the field to mirror the high school field with a fully enclosed fence and dugouts. A band practice field/soccer field behind the football field is also on the athletic director’s wish list.

Superintendent William Mullett said the band/soccer proposal would be the biggest expense, but the district was told it could access interest money for the project. Treasurer Jill Smith reported there is ap-proximately $400,000 in the account. Ath-letic department funding, according to Haskins, is primarily derived from gate receipts.

Haskins was asked by the board to create a priority list for projects, with the tennis courts headlining the list, and provide it to board members for further consideration.

In other discussion, Middle School Principal Debbie Omen reported on student participation in the May 17 Invention Convention in Columbus at Veterans Memorial and the nomination of advisor Bob Hunter for a teaching award. Hunter, a sixth-grade science teacher, was awarded a $1,500 MicroCenter stipend, a field trip for 30 students to COSI, and a visit from the Reptile Guy.

“We had no idea the students had written letters wanting him to be named Teacher of Excellence for the region,” said Omen. “These are fantastic comments from students who sit in his class every day.”

Student statements shared by Omen included: “He prepares us for life;” “He doesn’t treat us like babies that need everything done for us;” “He makes sure we can think for ourselves;” “He never wastes time and always has something for us to do in class;” and “He inspires and nurtures us because he has high expectations.”

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