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Hubs have home-field future

Ground broken for North High's Callas Stadium

Ground broken for North High's Callas Stadium

November 11, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN

karenh@herald-mail.com

When North Hagerstown High School football players board buses tonight, they will embark on a road trip for a home game for the last time.

Next year, School Stadium will belong entirely to the team's crosstown rival - South Hagerstown High School - and speakers at a rally Thursday could not be happier.

Plans for the construction of North High's Mike Callas Stadium drew closer to reality with a ceremonial groundbreaking in the parking lot near the site of the future facility.

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With private pledges, the stadium committee's total funding comes to $3 million, said Jim Brown, a former high school and Hagerstown Community College basketball coach. The committee still needs to raise $700,000, he said.

On Thursday, Cathy Lewis made public her $500,000 pledge toward the project from the charitable trust fund of her late uncle, Mike Callas. The pledge is included in the $3 million, said John Williamson, former chairman of the stadium committee.

"I wouldn't be standing here - we wouldn't be having this groundbreaking - if it wasn't for Mike Callas," said Williamson, one of several speakers at the rally.

"Even though he wouldn't finish with it, he gave us the one thing we needed to get this project going, and that was credibility," Williamson said.

Students huddled beneath blankets and varsity-letter jackets on temporary bleachers, as a color guard of three football players in jerseys held flags in front of a podium in the parking lot.

Craig Gilbert, the school's unofficial mascot, showed up as his alter ego, Hubcap, in red-and-white face paint and football uniform. He clanged on a hubcap around his neck as speakers addressed the crowd.

Temperatures in the parking lot seemed perfect for football, though the brisk wind that whipped the crowd would have played havoc with field-goal attempts.

High school wrestling coach Greg Slick, a member of the stadium committee, said he could see it now.

"Can't you just close your eyes and envision a stadium here with teams playing?" Slick asked the crowd.

According to Williamson, the stadium committee has received $150,000 from the state, $450,000 from the county and $100,000 from the City of Hagerstown.

The proposed stadium will seat about 2,000 people and occupy about 21/2 acres in the area of the driver's education parking lot, according to plans approved last month by the Washington County Board of Education.

The county is funding the project while the committee collects money from pledges. So far, the committee has reimbursed the county $300,000, Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said.

Williamson said the stadium is past due.

He told the crowd that his daughter, a 1999 graduate, had a complaint Wednesday about the stadium: It's 10 years too late, she said.

"I said, 'Actually, we're 49 years too late, but better late than never,'" Williamson said.

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