BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON- It’s tall and wobbly and has seen better days. And aside from its part in the history of the Fort Madison High School football program, its time has passed and plans are underway to replace the visitor’s press box at Richmond Stadium.
According to FMHS Activities Director Andy Mitchell, the district has paid for concept designs, and the coveted, state champion FMHS building trades program has agreed to construct the press box as part of the curriculum. Fundraisers are being planned as the district doesn’t have the budget to construct the new facility.
Funds are still needed for materials for what is planned to be a wider, two-story visitor side press box. The current structure held a concession stand with four levels of coaches and press boxes with a rooftop perch for video. The new design will be two story with a nest for recording events, a concession area, and additional storage.
The first fundraiser will be a fried chicken dinner at the Charleston Board of Trade on June 24. More information about that event will be released closer to the event.
“Our building trades classes have agree to help build us a new one. What a great opportunity our talented students will have to work on a bigger project on our own property. This will also save us a lot of money,” Mitchell said.
“But there are still a lot of costs to this. We will have to buy the materials, relocate existing electrical, put in the concrete foundation, and have someone finish off the roof.”
Mitchell said a design firm has already made the rough plans for the building that will be much wider and safer, but he’s waiting on a final estimate for the project.
“My best guess right now is anywhere from $30,000 to $35,000. The cost may come in lower, but we are trying to cover all scenarios.”
School district budgeting has become an issue of late and districts across the state are facing hurdles with financing, so the district could only put up funds for the design cost. Mitchell said, “I am grateful for the help the district is able to give. I am in complete understanding of where our buildings and maintenance budget currently stands.” But Mitchell said safety is a real issue and the Activities Department has the ability to create funds for this project. He said fundraisers will be planned, including a chicken dinner at the Charleston Board of Trade on June 24, and he’s hoping that the community businesses and individuals will step forward to come together to help fund the much-needed project.
“ A group of the football coaches, led by head coach Tony Shiffman, are volunteering their time to deconstruct the existing press box over spring break. Their efforts will jump start the project,” said FMHS Building Trades instructor Clint Kobelt.
“We are partnering with Mohrfeld Electric to reconfigure the electrical service/layout. Huffman Welding will reconfigure the bleachers to make room for the new much larger structure that will have a concession stand and added storage on the first floor. The second floor will provide sound proof rooms for coaches from both teams as well as a room for the radio announcers and walk up access to the crow’s nest on the third level for video coverage.”
The Building Trades program will panelize the building in the shop, including the three-story staircase, before the end of the school year where it will be staged until the start of the 2018-19 school year. Over the summer the new foundation work will be completed and when students return in August the first order of business will be to assemble the pressbox on the new foundation.
“The students are beyond excited about this project!” Kobelt said, “ To know that they are going to be responsible for the construction of such an impressive structure that will be used for decades to come is pretty awesome. The seniors in the program see it as their legacy and the underclassmen are excited to know they will get to reap the benefits of their efforts during football, track, and tennis seasons staring next fall. There is a lot of pride and school spirit going into this build. The community support has been great and we’re just getting this project started.”
Mitchell said the project is a win-win for the school and the athletic department.
“This is going to benefit not only football, track, and tennis, including a new storage area, but more importantly, it will benefit the young men and women who are and will be in the building trades program giving them hands-on learning experiences. It’s a win-win.”
Those interested in contributing to the project or helping in anyway can contact Mitchell in the Activities Department at 372-1862.