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County to loan money for stadium

December 21, 2005|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday agreed to act as "the bank" for the North Hagerstown High School stadium project, paying the bills for the $3.5 million facility and fronting money that hasn't been collected in pledges, Commissioner John C. Munson said.

Munson said any money the commissioners pay up front, which would happen if the pledges haven't been collected when the bills are due, would be paid back to the county by 2011.

The action allows the Board of Education to seek bids from contractors and get started with stadium construction.

"Before the School Board may sign these contracts and incur legal obligations, it needs a firm commitment from the Commissioners that all funding is in place to cover the entire cost of the project," according to information included with the commissioner's meeting agenda.

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J. Herbert Hardin, a member of the stadium committee, clapped after the commissioners voted.

None of the commissioners opposed the action. Commissioners Vice President William J. Wivell was not at the meeting when the discussion took place.

The stadium at North High, being called Mike Callas Stadium, will seat about 2,000 people and occupy about 2 1/2 acres in the area of the driver's education parking lot, according to plans approved last month by the Washington County Board of Education.

North High now shares School Stadium with South Hagerstown High School. That stadium is at South High.

The committee and School Board expect to seek bids for excavation work and construction in January, with a completion date scheduled for the fall of 2006, according to county information.

Stadium Committee member Jim Brown said the committee has received $3.1 million so far in private and public pledges.

John Williamson, who serves on the committee, said the group has about $400,000 to raise. Williamson said some of the pledges will be paid over a five-year period.

Commissioner Doris J. Nipps said she was "heartened" over the financial commitments made by members of the community, but she wanted to make sure the project doesn't run over budget.

She said that was because there were some detractors in the community "who are going to keep very close tabs."

Williamson said the project's books would be open.

"We're going to hear about it before you will," Munson said.

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