Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

New London residents ready to name athletic facility

Jul 18, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


NEW LONDON — As the upcoming school year draws near, members of the New London community are lined up with name suggestions for the nearly-completed athletic facility.

The New London School Board meeting began Monday evening with a brief presentation from Bob Shores.

“I just wanted you to see how far we’ve come,” he said as he pressed play on the VCR, a relic he had to bring from home into the district media center.

The video was a color movie of New London Schools from 1942.

“This would have been right after the war started for us,” said Shores. “There,” he said pointing to the image plastered against the wall, “is where they were collecting scrap metal for the war effort.”

The silent film went on to show the old elementary school, students doing calastentics, the 1942 marching band and finally the football team.

“I’m showing you this because I have a proposal,” he said once the film had finished playing, the football team being the last thing the school board saw.

“When Charles ‘Dusty’ Rhodes came to New London in 1954, the football team had been going through a bad time. New London hadn’t won any football games for a long time and his first year here, with 18 or 19 players out, not even enough to scrimmage, and they went 5-3,” said Shore. “It was the first winning season they’d had in many years.”

Shore played for him on the football and track fields.

Not only was Rhodes coach, he was also a counselor, an administrator and a mentor.

After countless stories, heralding Rhodes, Shore asked the new athletic complex be named after Rhodes. “I just can’t say enough about him and not just because of his history of success,” said Shore. “And doesn’t Dusty Rhodes Field have a nice ring to it?”

Shore wasn’t the only person in the community who had been thinking about what to name the new facility. Gina Anderson also approached the board with a request for naming the complex.

“There has been a real grassroots effort to name the field after Burdell Gilleard,” said Anderson.

Gilleard was a 1938 graduate of New London and former running back for the University of Iowa’s 1939 “Iron Men” team.

“He left Iowa after three years and went to war and was killed in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, in the Philippines,” she added.

Superintendent Chad Whals noted there were obvious merits to naming the complex after both men. “Where we’re at as a board, we’ll take what you have presented and try to have a work session to discuss it.”

“We know all of this happened because of the community, the 88 percent who voted for the bond referendum,” said board President Lindsay Porter, “so we want to make sure we’re representing the community.”

However, before the complex can be named, it needs to be finished. Whals said there have been issues with the general contractor, Tom Huckett, completing tasks on time or up to satisfaction. “Since the Fourth of July, we’ve only had two workers a day here,” he said.

Board member Jesse Howard said he would be in favor of holding further payment until a list of are completed.

Community member, Mike McBeth, said as a tax payer funding the project he would “be OK if you don’t pay another dime until it’s up to snuff.”

The next regular meeting of the New London School Board will be held on Monday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m.

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