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Rottle Field work almost finished

The grandstand at Rottle Field are nearing completion, and now the Montesano School District is looking down the road toward making other improvements at the athletic facility, including a possible turf field.

District Superintendent Dan Winter told the School Board at its monthly meeting Jan. 23 that other than seats, the grandstand should be close to completion by the end of this week.

He said that district maintenance staff will install new seats over the next month and expected the grandstand to be ready for use by March.

“By the end of February, we should have it completely buttoned up,” Winter said last week.

Winter also told the school board that the district has received “another” significant anonymous donation of $50,000 to go toward installation of a synthetic turf surface at Rottle Field in the future. Along with another anonymous donation of $50,00 and one of $100,000, the district has just more than $200,000 in an account dedicated toward a turf field.

But there’s still a ways to go according to Winter.

“That’s specifically what the money is for,” said Winter, noting that there’s a shortage of available fields in Montesano and an all-weather turf field could also host youth soccer and T-ball leagues on weekends. “Depending on what needs to be done in terms of field preparation, it will cost anywhere from $700,000 to $1 million to get it done.”

School officials discussed adding turf to the field as part of discussions when the old grandstands burned down in 2012, but rejected those plans because of the costs involved, settling on just re-building the existing grandstands.

A proposed stadium in Elma would utilize a turf field. That’s on the ballot for voters to decide this month.

The only other turf field in the region so far is at the Aberdeen School District’s Stewart Field. That was installed with the help of a $200,000 grant from the NFL and Seattle Seahawks, but Winter and Aberdeen High Athletic Director Ken Ashlock noted that the Montesano district is likely not eligible for such a grant.

“We got ours five years ago,” said Ashlock, “and the rules may have changed since then.” Ashlock, who lives in Montesano, noted that the NFL grant program is for low- and moderate-income districts and Monte likely does not qualify based on the number of free- or reduced-priced lunches served at its schools.

Winter also said that geographic limitations in the grant applications spell out which counties are eligible for the substantial grants, and Grays Harbor County is no longer among them, though neighboring Thurston County is eligible.

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