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Kelsey Foundation ups ante in Rottle Field turf effort

There’s been a groundswell of support for the effort to cover the ground at Montesano High’s Rottle Field with long-lasting all-season artificial turf.

In the wake of Willis Enterprises last month offering to match up to $100,000 in any donations this year targeted toward that new turf, the Montesano-based Kelsey Foundation recently voted unanimously to add another $100,000 in matching funds toward the effort.

Doing the simple math, that means that for every dollar now donated by alumni, community members or local businesses, it will be matched 2-for-1 up to a whopping $200,000 this year. That could result in a grand total of $300,000 for the proposed project.

“The Kelsey Foundation voted to put $100,000 in the pot along with the $100,000 (pledged) from Willis Enterprises with hopes that it will attract even more money,” said Kelsey Foundation board member Chuck Caldwell. “Our hopes is we can get this thing done by next year. I think it’s going to be a big push and we want to be part of it.”

With that turf project expected to cost roughly $700,000, the Montesano School District currently has a little more than $200,000 in donated money in a fund designated for that project.

“Obviously, we’re very excited about this,” said Montesano School Board chairman Steve Poler. “The Kelsey Foundation does so much for this community as is, but this is really stepping it up a notch.”

Poler said the “huge matches” by Willis enterprises and the Kelsey Foundation will hopefully spur enough donations to get the project done sooner rather than later.

“If things go really, really well, we think we could be putting in turf next summer. Poler believes that if the fundraising effort can reach somewhere around $600,000, there should be enough “in-kind” donations of infrastructure materials from the local community to make it happen, if not by the summer of 2015 than a year later.

Poler, who has four kids of his own, said an all-season field would be a boon to the community as well as the school, noting that current fields in town get so much use between youth soccer, baseball and softball, among other events.

Rottle Field is 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 the youth soccer and football programs for practices as well helping to alleviate current field shortages in Montesano.

“The grass fields just get torn up by all the use,” said Poler. “An (artificial) turf field is good not just for the school, but for the whole community.”

“Right now, they might use that field maybe 60 days a year,” echoed Caldwell. “They can use it year-round if we get that turf in there.”

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.