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Sports also a part of JBHS plan

June 22, 2009

On the Web:

fixjbsports.org

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- A group of athletic boosters who want to fix JB sports will literally put many James Buchanan High School and middle school athletes on a new track next school year.

The Tuscarora School District will break ground June 29 on a $400,000 project that will replace its decaying cinder track with a new red, rubberized track.

James Buchanan has not hosted a track meet in more than 10 years, said Marianne Quinn, co-chairwoman of Fix JB Sports, the committee spearheading the project.

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A committee of the James Buchanan Athletic Boosters Association, Fix JB Sports formed in late 2008 after voters denied the Tuscarora School Board's proposal to spend $35 million renovating high school facilities, including some athletic facilities.

"The taxpayers are struggling to pay even the basic educational needs in the district, so it was clear to us after the referendum that if we felt strongly about upgrading the athletic facilities, and we all do, that we would have to come up with the plan ourselves and spearhead it," Quinn said.

Only recently did the track move to the top of the committee's priority list, Quinn said.

With materials and labor at record low rates, she said the committee was advised to act now on the project. State grants secured years ago by former state Sen. Terry Punt added to the urgency.

Committee co-chairman Ralph Lehman said the boosters received two $50,000 grants through Punt's office, both of which must be spent within the stadium fence.

The deadline to spend the grant money is fast approaching, he said.

To expedite the project, Quinn said the school district voted in May to split the remaining project cost with Fix JB Sports and even pay the committee's portion upfront until it can begin fundraising through a capital campaign.

Committee members also have opened their pockets for the project, paying for project engineering and a fundraising consultant, Lehman said.

Fix JB Sports hopes to repair many of the high school's aging athletic facilities including its cracked tennis courts and rusting pool.

"We will kick off our first capital campaign this year," Quinn said, adding that the committee opened a fundraising feasibility study in June. "Our goal is to raise about $3 million."

Preparations to renovate the track began this week, Lehman said.

The visitor bleachers must be moved to accommodate the larger track.

Contractors began building new piers for the bleachers, which will be moved June 29 to make way for the track.

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