Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Montesano High School’s new grandstand at Rottle Field is taking magnificent shape.
Days from completion, the new structure — which can seat more than 1,200 people — will become one of the Harbor’s finest athletic venues, complete with some fine craftsmanship and modern amenities.
On top of that, the school district seems to be gaining some positive momentum toward eventually replacing the stadium’s grass field with all-season artificial turf.
With that turf project expected to cost between $700,000 and $1 million, the effort got a boost this week when School Board member Steve Poler announced that local business Willis Enterprises will match up to $100,000 in any donations in 2014 targeted toward that new turf. The district currently has just more than $200,000 in donated money in a fund designated for that project.
“Hopefully, this will motivate others and we’ll get it done sooner rather than later,” said Willis Enterprises owner Paul Willis, who graduated from MHS in 1961 and has lived in town for 65 years. “Jack Rottle was a good friend of mine and we had businesses right next to each other. I’m just trying to support the community.”
In a press release, Poler stated, “It is expected that the district will need around $650,000 as well as significant in-kind contributions. The field currently is used about 100 hours per year, mainly for varsity football and soccer games. With field turf, the field would be utilized not only by the high school, but also by youth soccer and football programs for practices as well helping to alleviate the current field shortages in Montesano.”
Individuals interested in making tax deductible donations to the field turf fund may mail their donations to: Montesano School District, 302 N. Church St., Montesano, WA 98563. For that matter, the first donation has already been made — $1,000 by Annette Hollingworth in the memory of Clarence Hollingworth — according to Poler.
“It should (motivate others). Let’s keep our fingers crossed on that,” District Superintendent Dan Winter said of Willis Enterprise’s magnanimous gesture.
As for the progress of the grandstands?
“It turned out great,” said Winter, who noted there’s still some work to be done but it’s close to completion. Winter said “Oh, yeah,” when asked if the entire project came in within its $1.6 million budget. He even said that there was about $8,000 in donated money that was used for extras such as the large metal-work Bulldog on the facade of the stadium and windows for the rather spacious pressbox.
“It’s just the little loose ends that are being tied up and we’ll be good to go,” said Winter. “We’re finishing up a few things. The electrician is here. Some painting and concrete needs to be finished when weather is good.”
District workers Gary Schurr, Cary Schurr and Scott Martin were busy late last week installing new bleachers, which involved staining and attaching some 4,000 lineal feet of donated yellow cedar that had been cut to proper length for each section of the grandstand. Winter said that when all is said and done — likely sometime next month — there will be a gathering for Bulldog boosters.
“We’re talking about a planned open house, but I want the weather to be nice before we bring the public out,” said Winter, “probably some time in March.”
Winter said the grandstands will be ready for use during boys soccer season this spring. But the big unveiling will likely come in the fall, when the Montesano High football team opens its season with its first real home game in what now seems like ages — on Sept. 5 versus Black Hills. The old grandstands burned down in September of 2012 in a case that has never been solved.