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Northwest Salmon



WASC making progress with new track fund raising

by George Thompson

The Webster Area Sports Complex Committee (WASC) is starting fund raising efforts for an estimated $1.06 to $1.37 million new track and football field. Committee members Jerry Somsen and Jamie Reetz say those efforts are off to a good start as their group has received commitments for nearly $200,000 and has vowed to raise at least $400,000.
The proposed project has been bouncing around for the past three years, but really came to fruition this spring when the Webster Area School Board signed on to the concept.
Last month preliminary plans for the facility were unveiled and the school board hired Helms & Associates to design and oversee the project.
“It’s the right time for a new track,” commented Reetz who is also a school board member. “The last time the existing track had anything done to it was 25 years ago. Our track is six lanes which means we can’t host regional meets and the existing surface isn’t a good place for our athletes to train on. A new track will take them off of our city streets.”
Reetz explained the differences between the two cost estimates is the type of surface to be used on the track. “We want to do this right when we do it,” he said.
“We think this is the last piece in the puzzle,” added Somsen. “It will open to and be a benefit to the entire public. It should be good for economic development. When businesses come and look at towns they want know they have all the amenities for their workforce.”
The project would replace outdoor facilities in the same location and feature an eight lane all weather track, irrigated natural grass football field, new jumping pits and other improvements.
In researching the project  WASC learned that a dozen surrounding northeast South Dakota towns already have, or are building rubberized tracks. The committee believes that Webster’s central location will make this facility attractive for larger multi-school track meets as well as regional events on both the A and B levels.
The WASC plans to raise money through incentives program. Among their ideas are naming end zones, jumping pits and track lanes for major contributors.
The WASC is also launching a Bearcat Giving program with donation levels ranging from $100 to $100,000, a Race to the Finish Alumni Challenge with levels from $1,000 to $5,000 and a track meet sponsorship rewards program, where donors sponsor individual track events.
“The sophomore class has already raised about $700 of its $1,000 pledge,” noted Somsen. “We would really appreciate any help people can give to us. We can take grain and we are open to in-kind donations.”
The WASC also plans to seek at least three grants.
Another incentive to build now is low interest rates on bonds. At the school board’s June meeting a bonding firm indicated interest rates for this type of project could go as low as 1.9 percent on a 10 year amortization. That would translate into $110,000 to $155,000 annual payment on a $1 million or a $1.4 million project. The majority of the board agreed those rates were attractive enough that the district could go ahead and sponsor the project.
Both Reetz and Somsen say WASC can always use more help, whether its soliciting contributions or any of the many other tasks the group faces. Anyone interested can contact either one of them or any other WASC member.
The engineers plan to come back to the school board’s September meeting with more firm project numbers. The goal is let and award bids shortly thereafter.
The earliest this project could get started would be the end of this year’s football season. Once started, the project will be under the gun to be complete by the following summer, otherwise the district would be faced with scheduling all or some of the 2015 home football games at an alternate location/s.

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