304 Mill Street, Woodsfield, OH  43793   Phone:  (740) 472.5801  FAX:  (740) 472.5806
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Board of Education Commits $2.6 million to Athletic Facility Upgrades


The money was made available to the school board due to a large amount of revenue from oil and gas. The facility upgrades will not cost taxpayers in any way or form. During the June 13th meeting, representatives from Beallsville, Monroe Central, and River were unified in presenting their proposals to the board of education and the onlooking community members who attended the meeting. A major and key part of the project presentations stemmed from the substantial need for athletic facility enhancements at each of the three schools. Despite the recent school renovations and new buildings, most of the athletic facilities amongst the three high schools have remained untouched. Beallsville Athletic Director Delmas Moore sounded off on the subject when he reminded the board of the extensivness of the problem: "This is not a Beallsville issue. It's not a Monroe Central issue. It's not a River issue. It's a Switzerland of Ohio issue," Moore stated. Each of the schools have been experiencing their fair share of problems and some were even concerned for the safety of their own student-athletes going forward. Beallsville's outdoor facilities are in deplorable condition. The Blue Devil fieldhouse is a portable building with shattered windows, few storage space, and no shower stystem. And that's just one example of the current state of the sports venues Blue Devil fans, student-athletes, opposing visitors, and coaches have to endure. Delmas Moore gave the meeting's attendees a tour of the state of his department's facilities through pictures, citing the issues his teams and kids have to live with. At Monroe Central High School, teams are missing out on vital practice time due to limited gym space. The school has also stressed the need for a bigger weightroom and fieldhouse that appropriately suites the needs of all of the Nole athletic teams. On the riverfront in Hannibal, Martin Flannery Field's current and homestanding press box was on the verge of being deemed "too unsafe to use" and had become a major concern for the administration at River. As for Martin Flannery Field itself, students, coaches, and volunteer workers had mentioned notable disturbances with the state of the playing surface. Despite the large sums of money put into the field in the past to keep it in playable shape, the conditions have been getting worse and worse recently. The field was becoming more and more unsafe to train, play, and even walk on by the day. No athletic department ever wants to put their own student-athletes at risk. The administration at River knew they had to act quickly and come up with a plan. Lucky for them, the board of education pulled through on June 13th, prior to the upcoming fall sports season.


Following a public participation portion of the meeting and the presentations, a lengthy debate and discussion occurred in which the board members walked through their problems, questions, and concerns with the proposals and the amount of money allotted. Board member Ken Darby was influential in showing his support for the athletic facility improvements. "Our kids deserve it," he voiced. "They deserve it today." Darby's words were followed by a round of heavy applause by an overwhelmingly pro-upgrades audience which included a large and supportive delegation of current River football team members. The young and hopeful eyes of the Pilot student-athletes looked on as the debate continued. "I'm an academic advocate and I'm skeptical (as well) of athletic upgrades," Superintendent Jeff Greenley stated. "But there's the hopes that if we invest in our facilities it will entice students to stay here." Greenley brought up a very vaild point. River Athletic Director Mark Romick described the situation by having the room picture the average All-American family looking for the All-American place to live, the place that fits best for the family. "When you go on a home search and try to find the right high school to send your kids to and you go and visit schools, you don't get to see the inside makings of the school.....the teachers, the classrooms, exc," Romick said. "No, what catches your eye is the athletic facilities, how the school looks and feels, the stuff you can see and notice." Our schools have the "look." Now, our athletic facilities need it. "By looking and sizing up the athletic facilites at a school, parents can tell how much a school, a district, is really willing to invest in their kids," Romick explained. Investing in the kids, the students, would soon become the theme of the night. Because it all comes down to that in the end. And that it should. The kids are the beating heart of every school district across this country. Therefore, the school board decided to do the right thing: to invest in the kids and to invest in the future. Ken Darby would initiate the first motion. However, fellow board members Sarah Smith and Ed Carleton were quick to point out that the motion's allotted money amounts were below the minimum amounts needed for upgrades at Monroe Central and River. In the second motion, Beallsville was allotted $1 million with River and Monroe Central recieving $800,000 for each of their respective projects. With athletes, athletic directors, and coaches staring into their department's fate, the board approved of the facility upgrades with a 4-1 vote. Denise Riley, Sarah Smith, Ed Carleton, and Ken Darby all voted in favor of the upgrades. Bev Anderson voted "no" to the proposal. It was decided during the board evaluations of the potential projects that Beallsville was in need of the most upgrades and therefore needed the most money.


Beallsville is now hopeful of the future for their school and community. The Blue Devil athletic facilites will now be getting noticeable facelifts. With their share, Beallsville plans to construct a new softball field, a separate new baseball field, and a new fieldhouse in which all the Blue Devil athletic teams can benefit from. The specifics of the master project plans are not finalized yet. The Beallsville administration doesn't have estimated costs yet either and will have to report back to the board once things are laid out and finalized. Early plans for the new softball and baseball facilities include having both venues constructed on school-owned grounds. Despite the abundant amount of work and planning that still has to be done, AD Delmas Moore believes both fields can be ready in time for next spring. The fieldhouse is likely the most pivotal aspect of the overall project. However, the arrangements and construction will take time. Moore says the building will be ready for the 2018 football season at the earliest. He expanded on the importance of the need for a new facility by saying, "I can't imagine any school having a worse facility for its football team than what we have." The new, highly-accessible fieldhouse will be home to the wrestling team as well. In large part, the building will benefit the athletic department and school as a whole, not just the football and wrestling teams. "The future (for Beallsville) is much brighter than it's ever been," Moore told the Times Leader newspaper. "We're excited with the tremendous amount of support from the board."


Monroe Central plans to spend their share of money by constructing a new multipurpose building on the school's campus that will feature nearly everything you can imagine. Like Beallsville, Monroe Central has no estimated costs or bids yet. The final plan with costs and everything will be pending a final approval from the board. Early estimates do indicate that the building will be between 7,000 and 9,000 square feet. Featured in the facility will be a practice basketball court, locker rooms, space for storage, a weightroom, offices, and at least a single classroom. Plans also call for a batting cage that the diamond sports teams can benefit from. "All sports will benefit from this," Seminole Athletic Director Ryan Rosnick said in his Times Leader interview. The facility will provide students with a close-to-home and ultramodern multipurpose platform. Currently it's safe to say the Seminoles have the most stable athletic facilities within the district. Therefore, it was an important discussion amongst the school's administration to decide the most suitable need for the school as a whole. Articial turf was initially considered on the football and baseball fields. However, Monroe Central doesn't own the piece of land where those two teams reside. Therefore, without lengthy negotiations and compromises, the land would have been hard to touch. Plus, the football field the Seminoles currently play on is in pretty good shape. It is known for being one of the best natural grass surfaces to play on in the Ohio Valley. Ryan Rosnick, along with other members of the Nole leadership, thought an indoor facility that everyone could benefit from would be the best decision. "We didn't want to focus on one sport," Rosnick elaborated on in his interview. "I believe this is going to be something that, once it's built, is something that people are really proud of." Rosnick cited practice time concerns as a major part of the final decision to build the facility. "This facility will allow us to have early practices for all of the teams, which will benefit the students travelling further distances to get home," he stated. He later expressed his excitement for the projects not just at Monroe Central but for the whole district going forward. "Every kid has the opportunity (currently) to succeed in the classroom and now we can help them excel on the field by having great facilities."


River has made an impressive commitment in recent years to their school's athletic facilities. With the backing of the Pilot administration and following an approval from the board for $800,000 in upgrades, Athletic Director Mark Romick doesn't plan on slowing down on the progress he's made any time soon. Romick came into June 13th's board meeting exceedingly prepared with plans for construction already put in place and costs lined up. He impressed onlooking board members with a detailed and thorough presentation that undoubtedly swayed the vote. He also had a strong repsonse to any question the audience or board presented him with. "We had estimates, solid (price) quotes, and companies lined up," he told the Times Leader. "We started working on this probably five months ago, because we thought we'd have a much better possibility (for approval) if we had firm numbers." River's outlined plan includes for a new turf surface to be installed at Martin Flannery Field, the school's football stadium, along with a storage facility and a new press box. However, those were not the first suggested ideas on how the Pilots should spend their share of the money. Riverfront community members have expressed outcries for the school to build a track and/or a new fully-equipped fieldhouse. The administration at River sought out ways the school could build a track and even went as far as seeking estimated costs for a new fieldhouse. However, issues arose. The $800,000 the athletic department was allotted wouldn't have been enough for a track. The land along the river, where the Pilots currently have a cinder practice track, is not owned by the school. The land is owned by the government and therefore, noting the obstacles working with the government would present, the idea was not practical. And building a track at Martin Flannery Field would be near impossible due to the amount of limited space the facility offers. If it were ever deemed possible, it would cost the Pilots a lot of extra money to push and build into the rugged hills that overshadow the field. As for the fieldhouse, it was discussed that it would be best for the Pilots to work with the turf this time around and invest later down the road in such a project. With poor playing conditions at Flannery Field, injuries were a worrisome issue for the Pilots. Mark Romick agreed that he didn't want to put his student-athletes in harm's way. A turf field is also something every athlete and team can benefit from. Teams at River will be able to condition and train on a safe surface almost year-round. Now, there are always inquiries and concerns about the safety of a turf surface. However, River is getting one of the best turf companies in the world, maybe the best, to install their playing field. The Pilots did a smart amount of research on their ideal project and chatted with local schools who had turf in the process. They came to the conclusion to hire Maumee Bay Turf, a company located out of Toledo. The company has an amazing resume. They have installed turf surfaces at the new Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton and the Bengals' Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati just to name a few examples. What really strikes out on the company's resume though is a tour with the Super Bowl. That's right. Maumee Bay Turf was selected by the NFL to install the playing suface for the most recent Super Bowl in Houston. "They only install one kind of turf," Romick said. "So our kids will be playing on the same kind of turf that was used in the Super Bowl." And Pilot fans will not have to wait long to see the new gridiron in play. The turf and new press box is expected to be ready two weeks prior to the football team's home opener. Construction is already underway at Martin Flannery Field and has been ongoing since Friday, the 16th. "Monroe Central and Beallsville didn't have as firm of estimates and such on their projects, so that's why River's is able to be started immediately," Jeff Greenley told the Times Leader. The Pilot press box is being constructed by Rick Isaly. Romick was thrilled and appreciative of the board's decision to invest in this.


The evening, the vote, and the investment made by our board was simply for the kids. The students in this district made this possible. It was for the reaction on the faces of the River football players in attendance when the proposal passed. It was for the kids out at Beallsville who once thought that their hometown would be without a school to attend. It was for the Monroe Central kids who weren't getting home from practices on school nights until the late hours. It was also a big step towards a brighter future for our communities. It was a promise made by the school board that the Switzerland of Ohio Local School District has all hands on deck when it comes to investing in its students. Athletic facility upgrades were greatly needed throughout our schools and sports programs. We have made the investment in academics, our classrooms, our staff, and on our campuses. It was due time for some of the diminished athletic facilities in this district to get their share of the wealth. "It's been several decades since (our district) has made this kind of investment in athletic facilities," said Jeff Greenley. "There have been a lot of studies about the connection of extracurriculars and academics leading to success in college, and we're committed to that." Academics and athletics do go hand in hand. One big aspect the two go hand in hand with is community. A sense of community, a sense of passion, and love is what this area needs more than ever. This district is now proving day after day that they're committed to restoring that.

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Switzerland of Ohio Local School District Office: 304 Mill Street, Woodsfield, OH  43793    Phone:  (740) 472.5801  FAX:  (740) 472.5806