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JBHS' new track opens

September 25, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

MERCERSBURG, Pa. -- James Buchanan High School athletes were like kids in a candy store Friday night when the school officially opened the new track at Rocket Stadium.

Deteriorating athletic facilities prompted the school's athletic booster association to form a committee, Fix JB Sports, in 2008 dedicated to finding a financial means to rehabilitate the tennis courts, pool and track.

"When you look at the pictures of the old track and the new track side by side, it is so easy to see the difference," said Marianne Quinn, co-chair of the Fix JB Sports Committee. "It's such an improvement."

Booster President Jim Witter described the old track as a mud pit.

Once four lanes of cinder, time slowly eroded away the cinders leaving nothing but one lane of dirt, he said.

Students often injured ankles and feet attempting to run on the track, Coach Darrell Snyder said.

"But this was what we got, this was our home," he said. "And we used it."

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Aging to the point of decay, the old track did not meet the standards of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, preventing the school from hosting track meets.

Now that the new track is in place, there is nothing stopping JB from having a top track program, said Nathaniel Witter, captain of the team.

"We already did good, but now, with a track, we should be able to excel beyond what we did," he said.

Quinn said the boosters realized after voters denied the Tuscarora School District's $35 million renovation referendum that if repairs were going to be made to the track, someone other than the school district would need to shoulder the cost.

The track quickly moved to the top of the committee's list of projects when it learned that $50,000 in state grants secured years ago by former state Sen. Terry Punt were about to expire, she said.

Tuscarora School District voted in May to split the remaining project cost with Fix JB Sports and pay the committee's portion upfront to expedite the project.

With the track completed, Jim Witter said the pool and tennis courts will be a priority for the boosters.

Fix JB Sports will kick off a capital campaign this year to hopefully raise $3 million for rehabilitating JB's athletic facilities, Quinn said.

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