BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Talk about getting more bang for your buck.
The Fort Madison High School athletic department has set up an arrangement, with a couple assists from Fort Madison Hy-Vee and Riverfest, that make take a big bite out of the cost of the new press box at Richmond Stadium.
The department is manning a fireworks sales tent in the Hy-Vee Parking through July 6.
Head Football Coach Tony Shiffman said Monday morning a percentage of sales will go toward the cost of the new press box.
“It won’t be enough to pay for it, but if we get the customer flow we’ve had the past couple days, every day, it will be a big chunk. It won’t pay for the whole thing, but I think it’ll pay for a lot of it,” he said.
Shiffman said Riverfest organizer Charles Craft got the ball rolling a couple weeks ago with the opportunity.
“Charles contacted me a couple weeks ago and he’s the one who kind of got everything set up through Riverfest and his connections with that event,” Shiffman said.
“He thought it would be a good opportunity for, not just the football program, but the whole athletic department to get the press box built and we jumped at the opportunity to help out because we want to get that taken care of.”
Craft said his role was strictly logistical and he was able to help get the tent and fireworks from Riverside Fireworks through his Riverfest licensing. He said Riverfest has no financial stake in the venture.
“We saw an opportunity to help, and Riverfest always has a community outreach piece and this is just another way for us to be able utilize our efforts to help the community. The money is strictly between the football team and the fireworks wholesaler. It’s on a percentage basis that’s been worked out between them.”
Craft said Hy-Vee has also been instrumental in getting the fundraiser going.
“They’ve donated the space to put up the tent and then we needed some supplies and we went in to pay for them – they just gave them to us, so Hy-Vee’s been a great partner in this, too. When we told them it was for the school, they just jumped right in.”
Sales will be available from 10 a.m. to midnight daily through July 6. Many of the athletic department coaches, boosters and parents have been manning the tent, Even student athletes have been helping out with customers and stocking inventory, despite the school’s Athletic Enhancement program taking place at 8 a.m. weekday mornings. That program is open to all students in Fort Madison.
Shiffman said the press box construction is coming along well, with framing being done before school was let out for the summer. He said the only work that will take place this summer on the new facility will be pouring the concrete. Clint Kobelt, the FMHS building trades instructor, is overseeing student construction of the press box.
“It won’t be up for the first home game because the rest of the construction will take place when school starts, but it should be in place by the second home game,” he said. “It really looks nice, it’s going to be a nice addition to the field.”