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Group seeks better facilities at JBHS

December 04, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - When a special vote to decide whether to spend $35 million on James Buchanan High School renovations failed three months ago, a group of parents, grandparents, coaches and teachers took up the cause of fixing athletic facilities while a "Plan B" is explored for the rest of the 36-year-old school.

They've organized as the "Athletic Facilities Committee" under the auspices of the school's athletic boosters. And they've already identified their three most-pressing projects - the football stadium, tennis courts and swimming pool.

"These projects will be benefiting all students in the school district," said Marianne Quinn, chairwoman of the committee.

She talked about physical education classes that cannot use some facilities due to the disrepair. She also expressed concerns for elementary school swimming students who now change their clothing in the basketball locker rooms in proximity to high-schoolers.

Reopening the swimming pool locker rooms has been the group's first project.

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A committee member's contact with a recycling company allowed for disposal of the rusty, broken lockers, which were removed by new Facilities Director Stanley Morgan and maintenance workers. Parents are preparing to next tackle ceiling repairs, then paint the rooms.

More than $5,500 raised during a Nov. 8 "swim-a-thon" will be used to purchase new lockers.

"We're pricing plastic ones, so hopefully they'll last a lot longer than the metal ones," said Pat Reeder, who has been organizing the pool efforts.

Reeder has three children who have used the high school pool in swimming programs. Her oldest, who graduated in 2008, now swims at the Air Force Academy in Colorado.

"It's disheartening to have a pool in that condition when other teams come," Reeder said.

Because complete restoration of the three areas of concern would cost $3 million, the 35 members of the Athletic Facilities Committee have identified manageable projects within each.

"Obviously, the magnitude of what needs to be done, we won't be able to touch," said Ralph Lehman, vice president of the committee.

"It's going to be a multi-year effort," Quinn said.

Another upcoming project will be renovations for the football field's press box and the addition of handicap-accessible seating in the bleachers.

Committee members said they hope that area residents and businesspeople will consider donating, especially taking advantage of potential tax savings at the end of this year. The athletic boosters have a 501(c)(3) nonprofit status.

"We as a booster organization can take on projects and do some improvements with contributions that come in," Lehman said.

Donations to the James Buchanan Athletic Boosters can be sent to the high school in care of Athletic Director Larry Strawoet. Donors can use the memo lines of their checks to designate "pool, football stadium, tennis courts or general."

For more information about the efforts, visit fixjbsports.org.

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