MAPS board gets update on track progress

Manistee Area Public Schools superintendent Ron Stoneman said the community track project fundraising efforts are  moving forward in a positive manner. He said they still hope to break ground this summer.

Manistee Area Public Schools superintendent Ron Stoneman said the community track project fundraising efforts are moving forward in a positive manner. He said they still hope to break ground this summer.

MANISTEE — “It’s going to happen.”

Those were the words of Manistee Area Public Schools Superintendent Ron Stoneman said to his board of education members on Wednesday evening when talking about the Manistee Community Track.

Stoneman told the board about the recent $10,000 match donation from Nick and Thea Callesen that came in last week.

“That is a significant amount of money for a small business to donate and that is meant as a match,” said

Stoneman said he and track committee member Nick Jaskiw have been busy in the past few weeks. The committee has raised $500,000 of the $700,000 needed to start construction on the track.

“We have been in front of a lot of people in the community and speaking to business and service organizations,” he said. “We really are on the last lap of fundraising.I have a great deal of confidence that we are going to get the rest of the way. We have been taking the rendering of what the track will look like and parading it around town.”

Stoneman said they will be working with Foresite Design Inc. of Grand Rapids who are designing the track on producing bid documents relating to their project.

“When we get that information out to the market contractors will be able to bid on it,” he said. “When we get those back we will have a stronger understanding on the costs. The market is fickle and if a company gets overbooked the response to our bid requests can vary.

He said the district is thankful they have Foresite, because building track and sport facilities is their primary business. They will determine if the district is getting good bids for the project.

“We have a mid-summer kind of idea, but we can also push this out to see if the bids come out more favorable and we can move the project to a fall-early winter type of time frame,” he said. “That way we can determine the market and where we are at. It is very exciting and a long time coming.”

Board members were also given several presentations during the meeting with the first one being from Madison Elementary School principal Matt Kieffer. Wednesday’s meeting as held at Madison and Kieffer gave the board a breakdown on recent activities at the school.

“We finished up reading month and the teachers took a lot of pictures of the event and the kids had a lot of fun,” said Kieffer.

Kieffer also pointed out that at the end of the year he will be moving to the athletic director/transportation director position.

“This is fourth and final year at Madison,” he said. “I just want to publicly thank all the staff for their hard work and professionalism. I am very happy to have worked with such a group of professionals who are great with kids.”

Board members also were given presentations by the high school Science Olympiad team that has qualified for the state tournament under coaches Kevin Postma and Bridget Warnke.

“At the regional we were really excited about where we were at and we ended up walking out in fourth place which is not good enough to go to state,” said Postma. “Two days later, we got the results and we had actually placed second and get to go to state. Now we are fired up, and in three weeks we go down to Michigan State.”

A presentation was also given by Forensics coach Eric Thuemmel on having members of his team qualify for the state tournament.

“Our forensics team is our public speaking and acting competition,” said Thuemmel. “There is the interpretation and public speaking sides where we compete.”

Thuemmel said last year the team finished fifth in the state which is the highest they ever finished.

“We had eight seniors on that team and many had made it to the state finals many times when they were in high school,” he said. “We had about 18 kids on the team and I thought we would be down on the numbers this year. However, we actually had 24 students come out this year which is the most we have had in years and 17 students qualified for the state tournament.”

He cited Mara Davidson as being a regional champion in storytelling, while Ben Kolk was the runner-up in the same division.

A presentation also was given by the Brian Veine’s Video Production Class on the success it has enjoyed in the past school year. Students did well in several video contests and he said they are also working on videos for many groups in the community.


Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at

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