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Track, field turf projects move forward at Rottle Field

Dan Winter is finding money in the mail almost every day. Sometimes, the Montesano School District Superintendent pulls out a $20 or $50 bill. Other days, Winter opens up a letter with $1,000 attached.

Winter didn’t win a sweepstakes, he is just finding out about the generosity of the alumni of Montesano High School.

Back in February, local business Willis Enterprises announced that it would match up to $100,000 in any donations made in 2014 toward the purchase and installation of all-season artificial turf for Montesano High School’s Rottle Field. Then, in April, the Montesano-based Kelsey Foundation voted unanimously to add another $100,000 in matching funds toward the effort.

Doing the simple math, that means that for every dollar donated by alumni, community members or local businesses, it will be matched 2-for-1 up to a whopping $200,000 this year.

Since then, the Montesano School District has sent out letters requesting donations to a majority of the alumni and responses have poured in to the tune of $11,000 just in the month of June.

“We get a least one, sometimes as many as six, checks ranging from as little as $20 to we’ve had a couple for $1,000, many for $100,” Winter said. “Every single day there is money coming in.”

The district had just more than $200,000 in donated money in a fund designated for the project before it began requesting funds from alumni. Since March, the district has received a $10,000 grant from Green Diamond, $5,000 from the Montesano Booster Club and $2,500 from the Montesano Football Booster Club in addition to the thousands from alumni.

While the funds raised are adding up, there is still a ways to go before the Bulldogs will take to the turf. The total cost of the project is estimated to be between $700,000 and $1 million, so Winter hopes the donations continue.

In addition to increasing the already 100 hours of play that Rottle Field sees each year, the field turf would allow Montesano to host playoff football games.

“The goal would be that at this time next year they would be in the process of installing it. September of 2015 we are hoping there is turf for the opening game.”

Field turf may be at least a year away from installation, but there is another project at Rottle Field that will start this month. During the fire that burned down the grandstands in 2012 the track was damaged due to the extreme heat from the blaze. Beginning July 21, the track at Rottle Field will get a significant face lift when the 100 meters closest to the grandstands are completely redone through funds the school district received from the insurance losses. In addition to damage done by the fire, there were some spots where damage was done to the track surface by construction to the new grandstands. All of the damaged spots will be patched, the entire track will be pressure washed and all of the lines will be repainted.

“It will look as close to brand new as we can get,” Winter said.

Individuals interested in making tax-deductible donations to the turf fund may mail donations to: Montesano School District, 302 N. Church St., Montesano, 98563.