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News :: VS athletic field turf project depends on success of fund-raising efforts
· 12:06am October 23rd, 2013
For what may have been the last time ever, Vinton-Shellsburg football players paused on the sidelines, and used a rubber mat with pegs to remove mud from their cleats.
This took place during the final freshman game of the season on Tuesday, just under 24 hours after the Vinton-Shellsburg School Board discussed a plan that could result in a new artificial turf being ready for the 2014 season.
Superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock told the board Monday evening that the district plans to set aside $400,000 over the next two budget years for the new turf project, which has a total estimated cost of $900,000 to $1.2 million.
The turf replacement must happen next year if it will happen at all, said Hainstock. That's because the track replacement and drainage projects are scheduled for next year, and it would be impractical to replace the turf after the new track is installed.
Replacing the asphalt track will cost an estimated $125,000; the district has also set aside $100,000 to address drainage issues for the area, which often floods during heavy rains.
Also, explained Hainstock, natural grass and artificial turf require different types of drainage systems, so the district will have to plan ahead to know which system it will need.
All of those projects are part of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) funding the school board discussed on Monday. Those funds, from the one-cent option sales tax, do not have any impact on teacher salaries or class size, said the superintendent. The PPEL funds are for facility improvements and equipment.
The main obstacle for the turf -- which will be similar to that installed at Benton Community in 2012 -- is the cost.
A committee has been formed to help seek donations and other funding for the project. School board member Megan Rickels is a member of that committee; she said during Monday's meeting that the group is just beginning to work on the fund-raising campaigns.
Hainstock and school board members cited several benefits to the new turf, which is a substantial improvement over the "Astroturf" grass fields that people remember from the 1970s. The new surface is designed to absorb impact, reducing the risk of concussion, as well as other safety features. It would also be used for a soccer field and other activities.
Last year, during his first meeting with the public, head football coach Jim Womochil listed a new turf as one of his goals for the first five years.
"I am very grateful to the board for their decision to support the idea of upgrading the stadium," Womochil said on Tuesday. "I am excited for the possibilities for both the school and the community to have a state-of-the-art facility."
Many groups, said Womochil, will benefit from the new turf.
" Academically, our physical education department will benefit with a focus on lifelong fitness," he said. "Safety issues can be relieved by the constant even ground of both a turf field and a track that was damaged during the storm a few years ago.
Also, said Coach Womochil, the district has the potential to save money through lower maintenance costs, donated funding, labor and materials, and increase gate and concession revenue by hosting more events.
"Our school and stadium are the first thing that visitors see coming into town from highway 218. This is exciting for our kids -- band, athletics, physical education, and the community will all reap benefits," he said. "I hope we can have a great effort in our endeavors to fundraiser for this potential project."
During the school board meeting, Hainstock discussed the maintenance issue. She said that school maintenance department employees, as well as volunteers, spend many hours each week mowing and painting the field in preparation for football games. Also, she said, coach Don Lyle has spent countless hours during the summer keeping the field watered. While an artificial turf does require some maintenance, it would require siginficantly less than that current field.
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