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FOMD IN THE NEWS

End is in sight for turf installation 

South, West, North in different stages



By Mark Hutchinson 

Freeman Staff
 7/23/14

WAUKESHA — The buzz preceding the start of a prep sports season usually begins when football practice opens in early August.

This summer, however, it is already echoing across the campuses of Waukesha’s three public high schools, accompanied by the roar of bulldozers and earth movers.

The Fields of Many Dreams project, a joint effort between Waukesha North, Waukesha South and Waukesha West high schools to install synthetic turf within all three stadiums, is rapidly gaining ground.

A substantial financial commitment from SC Waukesha for field rental gave the project a major
 boost in March after it was in a holding pattern for several years.

The athletic directors who have been overseeing the projects at their respective schools all have encouraging progress reports to offer.

Waukesha South Athletic Director Dan Domach has seen great strides since the project began on South’s campus May 28.

“They finished the gravel Thursday, laying sand over stone Friday,” Domach said before the turf installation began earlier this week. “The progress has been recorded with pictures that are posted on our website (waukeshasouthathleticsandactivities. com).”

The Waukesha West campus has been a beehive of activity as well.

“Our turf project construction
 is currently in full swing,” Waukesha West Athletic Director Kyle LeMieux said. “Between the installation of our drainage system, new concrete and the removal of excess topsoil, West High School has been a busy place the past few weeks.

“We anticipate, weather permitting, that turf will begin to be installed by the end of July. Our ideal situation is to have the field available for the start of fall sports practice, so we will see how Mother Nature cooperates.”

Just last week, Waukesha North Athletic Director Brian Schlei submitted a photo to The Freeman of the groundbreaking ceremony at his school.
 

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The first rolls of turf were installed on the football field at Waukesha South on Monday. 

Submitted photo
 

 

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“We broke ground Thursday,” Schlei said. “The grass has been prepped for the field to be stripped and for the topsoil to be removed. We are hoping to see equipment for the digging transition from West High School to our field this week.” 

All three ADs expressed excitement over monitoring the progress and envisioning what the finished product will be. 

“It’s rewarding to watch what the field means to the students, staff and community,” Domach said. “We will not only be able to play football and soccer, but will be to run all types of practices, gym classes and band practices, to name just a few. 

“The football players have started coming in for their eligibility cards for the first practice, which is Aug. 5. It is fun to watch the excitement generated from the knowledge that they will have their first day of practice on the turf.” 

LeMieux has enjoyed his many visits to the West stadium. 

“The transformation process is exciting to watch,” he said. “When I envision using the field a month from now, I am anxious to see the faces of our student-athletes as they take the field for the first time. 

“With additional upgrades including new uprights, soccer goals and scoreboard, our stadium will have received a dramatic facelift when the dust settles — and our kids deserve it.” 

Schlei has been busy making sure all facets of the North project are covered. 

“Right now my focus is on the little details surrounding the project,” he said. “We are updating our entrance and trying to take advantage of this project to rejuvenate our facility as much as possible. 

“For example, the updated entrance will feature the bricks that our supporters bought to help make the project happen and also will maximize our grass practice field space.” 

The athletic directors haven’t been the only excited witnesses. 

“We currently have over 275 athletes participating in our summer fitness program,” Domach said. “They have been watching the daily progress of the field becoming a reality. There is a lot of excitement in the weight room that gets translated to the athletes’ friends and families.” 

Scenes at West have been similar. 

“Construction has been on full display as students come to West for summer school and team activities, so it’s entertaining to see their reactions to the field,” LeMieux said. “Our coaches can’t stop smiling. I believe the anticipation will only build as we begin to see the turf installed.” 

And Excitement is in the air at North. 

“We have a great group of coaches that are working with our summer strength and conditioning class,” Schlei said. “I regularly visit and talk to the athletes and coaches about the project. They are eager to see the project come to life. Our athletes are very proud of this field and thankful to everybody who helped make it happen.” 

Hundreds have pitched in at each of the sites to bring realization to the Fields of Many Dreams project. 

“The Waukesha West community was passionate about seeing this project cross the finish line,” LeMieux said. “Many Waukesha West parents, booster club members, coaches and community supporters put their strengths and skills to work as we pushed through the final year of fundraising. 

“I was especially privileged to work with a highly motivated committee of individuals who not only invested financially, but also provided encouragement, sound advice on strategy and an ability to network about our project.” 

There was similar support across the board. 

“Our athletes and students played a big role in promoting the project and getting the community to see the value of what we are doing,” Schlei said. “The Waukesha North Booster Club made a significant pledge that helped us cross the finish line.” 

The three projects may be in different phases, but they have one connection who would arguably qualify as the Most Valuable Player in the big picture. 

“We owe a big thank-you to our director of facilities, Glen Norder, who has tirelessly devoted his time to this four-year project,” Domach said. “Without Glen, our field would not have become a reality.” 

LeMieux concurred. 

“Glen Norder is the glue of this entire venture,” LeMieux said. “Glen and I essentially had daily conversations over the past year about this project, and it’s important for people to know how badly Glen wanted to get this done for our kids.” 

Waukesha schools $230K away from making synthetic turf project a reality 

District hopes SC Waukesha commitment gives fundraising final boost



By Arthur Thomas 

Freeman Staff
 

WAUKESHA – As the members of Waukesha School Board tried to sort out what motions and votes they needed to make on Wednesday, the supporters of the Field of Many Dreams project could barely contain their excitement.

“We’re this close to artificial turf,” Waukesha West High School Principal David LaBorde said to Head Football Coach Steve Rux, holding his fingers less than an inch apart.

A large financial commitment from SC Waukesha for field rental has given the project momentum after several years with little traction.

“The thought of having a turf field is exciting to me, but it’s more exciting to our players,” Rux told the board.

The district has touted the project to install synthetic fields at all three high schools as a way to
 reduce injuries, make the fields consistently available to more activities, host WIAA playoff games and reduce maintenance costs.

After the board approved the project, supporters streamed into the hallway outside the board room. There were smiles and handshakes all around.

The district will now have until May 1 to raise roughly $232,000. If the efforts fall short, the project will have to return to the board.

Director of Facilities Glen Norder said he feels comfortable that the athletic directors will reach the fundraising goal. He added that it will be much easier now to ask businesses for support. He told the board’s Finance and Facilities committee on Monday that when he started trying to raise $1.5 million for the project, many people had told him to come back when it was closer to reality.

Despite passing out of committee 5-0, the proposal’s future wasn’t entirely clear going into the board meeting.
 

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Snow still covers much of the field at Waukesha South’s Ken Hollub Stadium.The School Board is working on a plan to get artificial turf fields at all three high schools. 

Charles Auer/Freeman Staff
 
 

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The original proposal called for nearly $375,000 in donations, a $501,000 contribution from the district’s property sales fund and$ 600,000 for a 12-year rental agreement with SC Waukesha. Advertising revenue of $24,500 from the fields was also included. 

The committee changed SC Waukesha’s portion ofthe deal to a 10-year, $580,000 contribution. The switch meant an increase of $10,000 a year to $60,000. 

SC Waukesha Executive Director Shan Amini indicated Tuesday that arrangement would not work and the board would have to change it. 

On Wednesday, the board returned SC Waukesha’s commitment to an average of $50,000 per year, but kept the 10-year term. To make up the $80,000 difference, board member Joe Como moved to use additional advertising revenue during the next five years. 

The board approved the change and the overall plan by an 8-1 vote. 

Kurt O’Bryan, who had pushed for the shorter deal in committee, was the lone vote against the deal. Heargued Wednesday that the board should send it back to committee. 

“It all sounds great, but we’ve been playing on grass for a long time,” he said, arguing it was inappropriate to make the change at the board level. 

O’Bryan’s effort to delay things drew the ire of some board members. 

“We’re frustrated as hell with trying to get this thing done,” Bill Baumgart said, comparing O’Bryan’s efforts to change the deal to a charity rejecting a donation because it wasn’t large enough. 

Baumgart later noted that many people had been working on the agreement for months. 

“You were here one night, for one meeting,” he told-O’Bryan, who was appointed to the board in February after losing his seat three years ago. 

O’Bryan said it wasn’t that he didn’t appreciate the offer, but he was concerned mistakes would be made if the proposal was rushed.“ With all due respect, Mr. 
O’Bryan, this is not rushed,” Como said.