New Manistee track one step closer to fruition

 

The Manistee High School track, in its current condition. The track may be close to being rebuilt in time for the 2016-17 school year. (Jared Buchholz/News Advocate)

The Manistee High School track, in its current condition. The track may be close to being rebuilt in time for the 2016-17 school year.
(Jared Buchholz/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The decade-long effort to build a track at Manistee High School took two administrative steps forward at the The Manistee Area Public Schools Board of Education meeting Wednesday night.

First, the board voted to engage the services of the Manistee County Community Foundation to administer a large chunk of the money that will be used to build the track.

The Foundation will oversee close to $150,000 raised by the Manistee Track Supporters, which has been engaged in fundraising activities for at least ten years.

“The addition of the Foundation is a huge piece of the puzzle for this process,” MAPS superintendent Ronald Stoneman said. “I think it really legitimizes our fundraising and campaigning for the purpose of (building) this track.”

The funds administered by the Foundation will not include over $200,000 derived from proceeds of the sale of the old Parkdale elementary school property and the sales of Manistee’s timber reserve.

The board also voted to create a planning committee to guide the process forward, with the aim of clearing the way for Manistee to host home varsity track meets for the first time since the 1970’s.

The track will likely be built on the site of the old Centennial Track across 12th Street from the high school, and could possibly host meets as soon as the 2016-17 school year, but that will be one of the things explored by the yet-to-be-named committee.

The committee will be composed of at least one Board member, but will draw the bulk of its members from the general public, attempting to reinforce the idea that the track will belong not just to the school, but to the entire community.

“The track would be good for the community if it’s a community track,” board member Richard “Duke”Edmondson said. “The school has made the commitment of hundreds of thousands of dollars from the sale of the school and timber harvest. Now, it’s up to the community, if they want the track, to come through.”

The committee is designed to act as a conduit between the Foundation and the board, and report to the board, who will make final decisions on expenditures.

“What I’m trying to do is create a structure that’s organized and has purpose,” Stoneman said. “We need a mechanism to communicate where we’re at, what we need and what’s going on.”

Despite a long history of failure to build the track, former school board member Nick Jaskiw, who will serve on the new community committee, is confident that this time is for real.

“I truly believe it’s going to happen,” Jaskiw said. “We have a lot of good folks like the Manistee Track Supporters, we have the board moving forward on the plan, and we have a lot of good fundraising, both in the past and currently.”

Jaskiw said that he hopes to keep the current fundraising effort strong, with a 30-day blitz with the goal of raising $200,000 in private donations to amass the final amount needed to get construction under way.

Before building the track, site selection and preparation will be significant expenses independent of construction costs.

“We need a little more money,” board president Paul Antal said. “We want to provide a quality track. We don’t have a pie-in-the-sky attitude, we’re not gong for the best, but we are doing what’s responsible.”

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Posted by Scott Yoshonis

Scott is the sports editor of the Manistee News Advocate. You can reach him at (231) 398-3112 or syoshonis@pioneergroup.com.

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