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North High stadium supporters ask county for money

July 27, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

tarar@herald-mail.com

The City of Hagerstown, the State of Maryland and private donors have pledged dollars toward a home stadium at North Hagerstown High School.

Now, it's the Washington County Commissioners' turn, recent North High graduate Brian Williamson told the elected officials Tuesday night.

And the request isn't cheap.

Stadium committee Chairman John Williamson, Brian Williamson's father, asked the County Commissioners for $500,000 toward the first phase of the stadium, estimated to cost $3.5 million.

The request is in addition to the $150,000 in Program Open Space money the commissioners already agreed to give toward the facility.

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The stadium, construction of which the committee hopes will be under way in September and completed in September 2006, will be named after the late Mike Callas.

Supporters of the stadium, many wearing red North High shirts, packed the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co.'s hall Tuesday night, where the commissioners held the meeting.

Both of the Williamsons said support from the commissioners is in line with one of the county's goals to form private/public relationships.

"Right now you have a chance to make good on your goal," Brian Williamson told the commissioners.

He said the state, city and community have stepped up, "now it's time for the county to step up."

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners would not make a decision Tuesday night but planned to discuss the request in depth at next Tuesday's meeting.

John Williamson said the stadium committee already has raised $2.3 million - $1.9 million in private donations, $150,000 from the state, $150,000 from the county's Program Open Space contribution and $100,000 from Hagerstown.

The committee plans to raise another $700,000. A $500,000 contribution from the county would give the group the $3.5 million it needs for the stadium, he said.

"What we're asking for is far lower than what you would have to pay if we weren't doing this," John Williamson said.

Stadium plans include a field, a track, bleachers, concession stand, a press box, lights and restrooms.

Making a point about the poor condition of North High's track, school athlete Brittany Churchey provided the commissioners with samples of what appeared to be a crumbling surface in small plastic bags.

She said the school hasn't been able to hold track meets there since 1999.

North High's football team and other school sports teams plays their home games at School Stadium at South Hagerstown High School.

Jessica Hanlin, a 2004 North High graduate and a student athlete at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said she never had the opportunity to run a home track meet in high school.

"It was upsetting to win a race and look up and see that you're at South High," Hanlin said.

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