PLEASANT HILL — The Pleasant Hill and Newton Township community gathered together to celebrate the opening of Newton Local School’s multi-purpose fieldhouse and community center on Sunday.
It was a standing room only crowd as administration thanked donors, contractors and community members who helped drum up enthusiasm for the $2.5 million facility.
“Seven months ago, we’d be standing out in a grass field. There was absolutely nothing here seven months ago and now we have this — it’s amazing, truly amazing,” said Superintendent Pat McBride. “I hope to see people use this community room for morning coffees and chats, for family gatherings for professional purposes and meetings, for alumni reunions, maybe even a Newton tournament. I hope to see our community members using this fitness center and creating new and better friendships and relationships. I hope to see community members walking around this track. I know we are going to see our student athletes use this center to get stronger, faster and quicker, and I know it’s going to pay off with greater team success. Finally, with all sincerity, may this entire facility be an environment that all feel welcome and accepted.”
The center features a gymnasium with walking track, basketball and volleyball set-up and batting and pitching cages on a mezzanine. The facility also has a weight room and cardio equipment with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to the east of the school campus.
Freshman Harold Oburn, with help from senior Kleyton Wehrley, “christened” the gym with a slam dunk on the basketball court.
McBride also thanked the Powell family and read the commemorative plaque dedicating the community room to the memory of the late Larry Powell, a 1976 Newton graduate and former athletic director for the district. Powell’s wife Bonnie and children helped complete the dedication plaque, which will be featured in the community room in the family’s name.
Powell began “The Barn” ministry that welcomed youth to have a place to gather for fellowship and fun.
“This facility will be seen as an extension of Larry’s vision of what was his community outreach and hope he wanted to share,” McBride said.
The Powell Community Room features tables and seating space, a large flat-screen television, separate bathrooms and a kitchen. The Powell Community Room will be open to the public at any time the facility is open.
Heather Tippie, parent, coach and the wellness coordinator for the new fieldhouse, shared how a 5 a.m. workout session with community women sparked the idea for the fieldhouse project. She approached McBride to request use of the school campus to host a women’s fitness group to meet and it later evolved into the community center.
Tippie said the group celebrates milestones, both personal and fitness-related, and serves as support group for one another. Tippie said the group also begins each session with prayer and said a prayer box will be installed in the Powell Community Room. She said the group will honor each request in prayer prior to each session.
McBride said the district will pay for the project by financing $1.75 million over the next 15 years. The district invested a $750,000 down payment to start the project and has received $100,000 in private contributions for the facility. McBride estimated yearly payments of $120,000 will be paid with half of the funding from the district’s permanent improvement fund and the other half from its general fund. The district has the option to pay the project off at the end of its 10 years payment plan. The district recently paid off its 1999 building addition early due to refinancing, which freed up funds to make the annual payment for the new fieldhouse project, according to McBride.
Level MB served as the general contractor for the project. The follow contractors also contributed to the project: MT Studio, TC Holzen, Gostomsky Masonry, Tuscarora Wood, Maxim Roofing, Weiffenbach Flooring, Farnham Equipment, Kessler Hines, Response Fire Protection, Refrigeration Controls, Becker Lighting, Metcon Concrete, Fusion Metal Fabrication, Summit Builders, Hemms Glass, Midwest Painting, IOS Furnishings, Stillwater Contracting, Sarver Plumbing, Garber Electric and Garber Connect.
The district received several notable donations for the project from Premier Health-Upper Valley Medical Center, John and Lolita Schultz and the Joe Szakal family.
For more information, visit www.newton.k12.oh.us.