Carpet the Corral: Fundraising effort officially kicks off to put artificial turf on stadium field

BELLVILLE — Supporters of Clear Fork Local Schools have kicked off a campaign to put all-weather turf on the football/soccer field at the high school.

The Clear Fork Athletic Boosters Club — in a collaborative effort with the athletics department — announces the “official” launch of a capital campaign to raise funds to install synthetic turf on the field at the Colt Corral.

“The stadium is a centerpiece of the school and community activity and upgrading the field will have a positive impact on all the kids (K-12) in our district,” said Chris Laux, who has volunteered to lead the effort to put in the turf.” We’ve talked about before, I think 2011 was the last serious discussion. But it seems now is the right time.”

The estimated cost of the project is $900,000. A company to provide the turn and the exact kind of turf has not yet been determined. The plan is for installation to start in May and for the field to be completed before the fall sports season begins.

There will be numerous ways for business and individuals to donate. Donations will tax-deductible.

“The goal is to upgrade the playing surface,” Laux said, “and 100 percent of the funds raised will benefit stadium upgrades. If we have extra funds we will consider other projects to fund.”

Other area schools with artificial turf include Madison, Mansfield Senior, Highland, Mount Vernon, Wooster and Marion Harding.

The idea to install turf at Clear Fork first arose in 2011 and some initial inquiries were made, but the project never moved forward. The topic has been brought up on several occasions since, but this past summer conversation began again in earnest and a committee was formed, with Laux taking the lead.

Clear Fork’s football teams have enjoyed unparalleled success in recent years, qualifying for the state playoffs the past two years and winning two Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference football championships.

The girls high school soccer team has a long history of success, including being one of the top teams in the state the past several seasons.

“The timing is right,” Laux said. “The move to the MOAC has been great for Clear Fork. But this isn’t just about sports. It will allow that stadium to get more use. The band will have a good field to practice on and it will give us an opportunity to host football and soccer tournaments in the future.”

The committee consulted with a couple different turf companies and received initial quotes for the job.

“We also spoke with representatives from area schools who have installed turf for their input on the benefits, fundraising and more,” Laux said. “This quote from the Orrville AD sums it up and was echoed by all the other schools: ‘You have no idea how having turf enhances opportunities and allows sports from elementary, junior high, high school, band, football, soccer baseball, softball, etc., to practice and play.’ The other frequent comment was: wWe wouldn’t be able to offer and have the activities we have today without turf.’”

Laux added that with the improvements in turf technology and installation, it will also be more cost efficient over the long haul with maintenance, and it will be worth the initial financial investment.

“We made a “soft” introduction of the project at the fall sports parents meeting in July and set out garnering support through corporate sponsorships,” Laux said. “We are excited to announce that we have over $600,000 in pledges to date with more coming in.

“The Clear Fork Valley is very generous and we want to thank the following companies for leading the way with their support of this project. Gorman Rupp Industries (pressbox sponsor), Global Oilfield Services (field sponsor), Alumni Roofing, Brennstuhl Construction, First Knox Bank, Richland Bank, Smith Hardware, Adam Brokaw Construction and McGregor Mortgage. There are several others who are still to let us know their commitment level or wish to remain anonymous with their donation.”

And now, supporters are going public with their fund-raising efforts.

Initial quotes for the project came in at about $900,000. This includes installing a shock pad under the turf that will provide greater safety for our students and give the surface a more “natural” feel.

“We know we will be able to reduce the “retail” price with some in-kind work being done by local companies that have committed to helping in this way.” Laux explained. “This would probably bring the project cost to the $700,000-$750,000 range, but our goal is still to have at least $900,000 in pledges by March to be prepared in lieu of the in- kind work or to cover any unexpected costs.’

The plan is for installation is begin in May and will be completed by early August, before the fall sports seasons begins.

There are various ways to donate and an “Every Door Direct Mailing” will soon take place.

Payment can be made by cash, check, credit card or Paypal annually, quarterly or monthly,based on your pledge options. If you want to send in a payment, make your check payable to CFAB and mail it to P.O. Box 657, Bellville OH 44813.

“A donation of any amount is appreciated and many of them will all add up quickly,” Laux said. “The Clear Fork community always comes through.”

For more information, you can contact Laux at 419-564-8900 or Arrangements can be made for Laux or others to come to your club or civic group to talk personally about the project.


By Russ Kent

Bellville Star