Anyone who has been curious to see the Washington High School athletic/band complex renovation up close will get that chance next Thursday, Sept. 5.
An open field night is planned so the public can see firsthand all of the improvements made, said Athletic Director Bill Deckelman.
“And I think they will like what they see — it’s pretty impressive,” Deckelman told The Missourian.
The $2.3 million project includes a synthetic turf field, spray-on track, new lighting, new visiting side bleachers, fencing, improved ADA accessibility, concrete walkway around the track and an access road.
Informal Open House
The “informal” open house will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. There is no set program, rather people can stop by at any time during those two hours.
“People can come down and touch the new turf field and walk on the new track, really just roam the stadium and check it all out,” Deckelman said.
“We didn’t want a formal program,” he said. “Instead, the varsity football team will be completing its pre-game practice for its Sept. 6 home opener between 5 and 5:30 p.m. and then the dance team and cheerleading squad will get a chance to take the field and do a run-through as well.”
Then, at 6 p.m. the WHS Marching Blue Jays will have its regular practice on the field.
“We’ll have lots going on which I think will make it more fun for those visiting, and people will still be able to get on the field and track,” he said.
Deckelman and other staff members will be on hand to field questions about the project.
The athletic boosters also will have their wearable trailer open if anyone wants to purchase WHS merchandise.
A formal ribbon cutting is planned just prior to kickoff of the Sept. 6 football game at approximately 6:55 p.m. which will include the band, dancers and cheerleaders, as well as members and special guests of the 1973 state champion football team.
Superintendent Dr. Lori VanLeer said she’s excited about the open house and grand opening of the new complex.
“It will be nice to utilize a facility that brings great pride to our kids and our school community,” VanLeer told The Missourian.
“It also will be great to have a place where our teams can practice and play, our band can march, and our physical education teachers can conduct classroom lessons,” she said. “The new AstroTurf Gameday grass really is a good surface that will meet our needs. The track team also will be coming home. We are really looking forward to it all.”
Last year, the track team was forced to utilize other venues for its home meets due to the disrepair of the track.
Deckelman said final construction work is still taking place at the complex, but the project is on schedule.
“It won’t be 100 percent complete when we play our first game, but it will be a lot of details that most people won’t even notice,” he said. “The big components, like the turf and track, are done and look amazing.”
Work continues on the new entrance gate and canopy, a late addition to the project being funded by the WHS Athletic Boosters. The boosters also are paying for the Blue Jay logo featured in the center of the field.
The general contractor for the entire project is Byrne & Jones Construction.
The complex renovation is being funded through one-time monies in the district’s capital projects budget. The district also is using the $572,763 it received from Harman Becker in a settlement agreement with the city of Washington over tax payment for the project as well.