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Maybe It’s Time to Put Up or Shut Up
When you attend local sporting events on a year-round basis, conversations are struck up with a number of people on an almost unlimited variety of topics.
Recently, the most talked-about issue I’ve encountered is the condition of the high school track at Knightstown Intermediate School. Without a doubt, the track’s condition is as poor as any I’ve ever seen, and the boys and girls junior high and varsity teams are forced to travel for every meet they have. Practices are usually an adventure.
That issue has contributed to the almost unbelievable downfall of participation in the sport. The boys and girls varsity track teams combine for a total of 30 participants, assuming none have dropped the sport in the last two weeks. That’s less than the number of participants at most of the smallest schools in the state. It’s comparable to trying to field a baseball team with four or five players.
That issue has caused questions from the past to resurface about the high school. A very large number of people have commented to me that they were surprised we spent so much money on a new high school, yet that construction project included only new tennis courts.
We didn’t build a football field, a track facility, a baseball diamond or a softball field. The gymnasium we constructed is smaller than the old one at the middle school.
Our varsity football team plays games at the intermediate school and has a cow pasture for a practice facility. It’s the worst practice field of any team on the Panthers’ schedule, and several opposing coaches have shaken their heads in disbelief when they were shown the field. When I was in high school that field was called Broken Ankle Alley. It’s in worse shape now.
I’ve spent the majority of my life being surprised by things happening around me.
Of course, I’m not too stupid to realize that the primary reason I’m always surprised is because I’m rarely paying attention.
But every now and then something happens that causes me to open my eyes, or at least to momentarily turn my head in a particular direction. Another of those episodes occurred recently, and I’ll share it with you. It’s a Good News, Bad News situation.
Plans were formulated and construction is underway on two new high school football practice facilities, as well as a new baseball diamond. The practice football fields will be located right next to each other and will give the students unprecedented access to practice facilities, likely contributing to dramatic improvements in the overall program.
The baseball diamond will be reversed. Home plate will change from its current southwestern position to a northeastern location. The field will basically be turned 180 degrees as part of a long-overdue renovation that will completely change, and improve, the ball field.
The three projects, although massive in nature, are going to be completed at a price tag of around $200,000, which is surprisingly low considering the cost estimates we’ve been hearing on various other projects.
That’s all being done at Eastern Hancock, not Knightstown.
I saw the construction site while attending a softball game and briefly talked about it with Eastern Hancock Principal Dave Pfaff.
We couldn’t do something like that here because we can’t afford it, let alone put together a cost-effective plan and follow through with it.
If the Charles A. Beard Memorial School Corporation tried to take on such a project, taxpayers would first be asked to foot the bill for a feasibility study. Then, history tells us, you would likely have the required hiring of personnel such as an interim construction liaison and an interim building site attendance taker.
Then you would have to add to that the additional funds needed to cover the costs of expanding the existing administrative building to make room for all of the new relatives and friends of CAB executives who would be hired because, well, that’s just what we do.
Attorney’s fees would also triple, because at CAB, that’s just what they do.
We have no social worker, no choir director and no gifted and talented program.
Our school corporation taxes and operating costs go up, our services go down, education suffers, and extracurricular activities are moved from the back seat to the trunk.
In short, a project similar to what Eastern Hancock is undertaking is just not feasible here because we all have allowed things to be this way for a very long time.
Follow the lead of the voters in the recent town council election and send a message to CAB on May 6.
If not, please quit approaching me at the game and complaining about it.
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