Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 26, 2017

Renovations brighten up New London athletic facilities

Jul 27, 2017
Photo by: Andy Krutsinger New London has a lot to be proud of going into the new semester. One of those being the new athletic center. Above, a view from the far end zone at the brand new football field.

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News

 

NEW LONDON — It’s out with the old and in with the new at the New London track and field.

The finishing touches are being put on the new track and football field just in time for the fall sports season, and the facilities are almost ready for the big reveal.

The school was already prepared to get a new track, having over $247,000 set aside, but an April 2016 bond agreement gave New London the funds to completely renovate the facility.

“If they are going to tear up the field and track, now is the time to put it back the right way,” said New London school board member Jesse Howard. “It makes sense to do all of it at one time.”

It wasn’t easy deciding what to make a priority. A bond committee was formed, which brainstormed to figure out what the people of New London wanted, and needed the most.

“We started at over six million dollars of what we wanted to do and narrowed it down to the 2.5 million,” Howard said. “As a board, we looked at being fiscally responsible to the tax payers (and) everything needed to meet the handicap accessibility (requirements).”

Among the many changes made to the outside facilities are a much improved surface for football games, a six-lane track capable of hosting home meets, a new press box and a new concession stand area.

Aside from the rubber part of the new track, which will be laid down in mid-August, the field itself is ready for action.

The field was shifted to the south, new field goal posts were put in and a new scoreboard is in place. The new field will be handicap accessible, meeting all state requirements.

A new bleacher set can be found on the New London portion of the sidelines. Due to the extra space being taken up by the track, home and away fans will both sit on the near side where the press box and concession stand are.

Tiger fans shouldn’t expect it to get too crowded, however, as the new bleachers can sit more than the old “home” and “away” bleachers combined.

But the outside facilities weren’t the only upgrades. The locker room area inside the school, which is used for both inside and outside sports, got a big time tune up as well.

In the past, the concession stand was connected to the back of the bleachers, facing the elementary school. The new concession stand is its own building, faced towards the field which will allow the workers to watch the game.

The school will also continue to expand its own video coverage of games, and Howard says there will be screens inside the concession stand that will be tuned into the football games so nobody misses out on any of the action.

Money saved from other parts of the project was able to be used on getting the student-athletes better lockers and individual showers. The boys’ locker room was even separated from one joint middle school-high school locker room to a different locker room for both age groups.

According to Superintendent Chad Wahls, who came in just a few months after the bond referendum was passed, the original plan was just to cut some old piping out of the locker rooms, but now some much needed changes have been made for the students, as well as the coaches.

Athletic coaches will now be able to use double-sided white boards (basketball and football for boys, basketball and volleyball for girls). A new coach’s office has been put in place and a new training room will be available for use, something Wahls is especially happy about.

“We had this area that always concerned me,” Wahls says. “It was like a closet area that had an ice machine and a whirl pool in it (with) doors to both locker rooms. If one or the other didn’t lock the door, you could potentially be walking into a lawsuit. It was an accident waiting to happen.”

Wahls and Howard both agree that the new training rooms and individual showers will do a lot to help preserve the students’ privacy as they use the facilities.

The project has been met with overwhelmingly positive support from the New London community, which voted “yes” on 88 percent of its ballots when the bond election took place.

Teachers, coaches and staff members have volunteered much of their free time to help get the facilities ready for the 2017 season. Wahls says it’s nice to have the community support, and he hopes the kids who benefit from the updates can pass it onto future generations when the time comes.

Both Wahls, and former Superintendent Steve McAllister have had to do a lot of work to make sure each step of the project goes smoothly.

Howard says a lot of the project’s success can be attributed to Wahls, who inherited the project when he stepped in to the position.

“He’s done a phenomenal job,” Howard said. Through his attention to detail in working with it, he was able to save a lot of money in different areas.”

The new field has not been officially named yet, but the school board has began the naming process.

 

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