Stadium spruce up worth a couple bucks - Beside the Point, by Chuck Vandenberg


The community got some good news last week.

Tara Johnson texted me and asked me to give her call about something. Sometimes journalists hope that people call with some inside scoop or tip.

But Tara was looking for some publicity for a project she was working on.

I spend quite a bit of time at the Fort Madison High School track getting in road work. It's not the real road work, but I do get in the 5K run/walk and one of the things I've always noticed is the grimy grandstands on the home stands at Richmond Stadium.

The chipping paint and crumbling fencing aren't so obvious, but they are in need.

Johnson and the Fort Madison Football, Inc. have started a grassroots fundraiser to make improvements to the stadium. The trades programs, in conjunction with some heavy partnerships with local manufacturers, built a new press box/concession stand.

There's a Go Fund Me page set up at Fort Madison Football, Inc. to donate to the project. FM Football Inc., helps fund equipment and programming for Fort Madison's football program.

Starting with the youth football program and up to the varsity program, Fort Madison Football, Inc. functions as the charitable arm of a football program, and really an athletic enhancement program, in a resurgence.

I spent some time conversing with outgoing Athleic Director Jeremy Swink a few months back and we talked casually about the level of the athletic programs in Fort Madison, among other things.

As part of our discussion, and discussions I've had with a few other people in the past month, I mentioned that not only are the athletes getting better, but they quality of kids is getting better as well as a whole.

I went to Pella for the Class 2A substate soccer final and witnessed not only what I think will amount to the state title match in Class 2A, but also some sportsmanship that surprised even the parents.

At one point several Hounds were cramping up, and before the officials even whistled play stopped, Pella kids were helping the Fort Madison kids stretch out the cramps.

At the end of regulation, the two team captains, Chandler Rung for the Hounds and Mason Holland for the Dutch, embraced to start the overtime period. That move brought applause from the stands. Both the Fort Madison and Pella faithful sat in the same home stands of the field.

So a contribution to the Fort Madison Football, Inc. project is a small way to help these dedicated folks present a better brand of athletics to the students, the families, the community, and visiting communities.

We donated in memory of Kelsey. She loved to go to football games with her friends, and did the best she could in band performances considering the fatigue that had to come with her then-undiagnosed pulmonary hypertension.

But we also donated because there are so many doing so much.

Johnson said very poignantly that it's the usual suspects that make these donations work. The industries, banks, the wealthy and those that typically shoulder those responsibilities because they can.

But this is a great way for alumni to honor their school and give back to programs that, good or bad, gave a lot to them to. Memories.

Grassroots efforts are those that focus on small donations from lots of people. The goal is $20,000 and the depth of the repairs is based on the amount received.

To donate, simply click here, they'll take any amount. Share the link or this story so it trickles down the social media world to everyone who has ever gone to FMHS. The $5 and $10 donations, obviously the larger ones as well, will be the gestures that bring the project over the finish line.

At the Bloodhounds substate semi-final soccer game against Clear Creek-Amana, I mentioned to Head Coach Kevin Wellman that we're seeing a better brand of athlete in Fort Madison.

"It's that guy right over there....that guy right there," Wellman said pointing to Fort Madison athletic enhancement director Derek Doherty, who had come over right after the Hounds downed CCA, and congratulated the coaches.

The camaraderie that now exists within the sports, boys and girls both, is part of a winning formula. They are putting in the sweat equity to build the programs and the athletes. We have to be the ones that throw a couple bucks at the facility.

We're developing a new sense of pride in our programs, now we have to carry that pride into our facilities.

The fund is currently at 5,800, but has grown from $1,500 in the past four days. It's the right thing to do for the Crimson and Black. The stadium is used by the middle school for events, high school events and community events.

Come see what's beginning to be fuss at FMHS. The commitment from those that help these students athletes is very real. Our support should be as well.

Talking about support. I stopped out for some pictures of the Fort Madison Fire Dept. putting up flags in Memorial Park. These men not only put up about 75 American flags, but they help fund the work. They also put up flags on the graves of former FMFD fire fighters. Yes, I know someone's gotta do it. Well maybe someone doesn't have to do it, but here they are anyway - But that's Beside the Point.

Chuck Vandenberg is the editor and co-founder of

beside the point, editorial, guest author, opinion, Pen City Current


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