(Posted April 12, 2022)
By Linda Dillman, Staff Writer
The ROC is open.
A long awaited athletic facility—the Roughrider Optimization Center—is now serving the needs of Jefferson Local Schools sports teams, band, and other large-scale student endeavors.
The field house was built entirely with private funds at no cost to the school district.
While the ROC started serving spring athletes in March, the school district conducted an open house on April 11, just prior to the monthly school board meeting. Project leaders and volunteers, district officials, business owners and representatives of Madison Health—a major donor—gathered inside the complex which covers an area as large as half a football field.
“This is an exciting project,” said Matt Adams, high school assistant principal. “This building is absolutely amazing.”
Superintendent William Mullett called the ROC a community endeavor involving a lot of people who contributed not only financial support and in-kind donations, but also blood, sweat and tears.
“We’re now a little bit the envy of our county,” Mullett said. “None of this would have happened without Dick Dickerson who brought his expertise as an engineer.”
Athletic Director Mitch Dalton told the crowd gathered inside the steel structure that a “massive amount” of volunteer time and donations are truly benefitting all students at Jefferson Local Schools. He also said access to a building the size of the ROC will set the tone for years to come.
“About two years ago, we started talking about this project. Mr. Dickerson was behind the whole thing,” said Kenny Love, athletic boosters president.
“Things like this aren’t at every school our size. They couldn’t afford it. This facility is going to provide a lot of benefits to the students of West Jeff. Besides this project, the booster club also channels $50,000 into the school system every year.”
When it came time for Dickerson to take the podium, he said the ROC was possible because of a powerful sense of community in West Jefferson and an incredible sense of character of a critical mass of people.
“I had two children that went here, and they were incredibly well-prepared for the next stage of life,” Dickerson commented. “It was the teamwork, social and incredibly strong sense of community they got here at West Jeff.”
More than 200 individuals and 50 companies helped to make the project a reality, he said.
The 20,000 square-foot facility contains 30,000 square feet of netting, 3,000 feet of cable, and 38,000 pounds of shredded rubber tires spread across the artificial turf. Between 50,000 to 60,000 tons of fill material also was donated.
“If it hadn’t been for Madison Health, we wouldn’t be here today,” Dickerson added. “What an incredible group of people and what an incredible group of companies we have here in West Jefferson.”