PLEASANT HILL — The Newton High School junior class and community members broke ground on a new, $2.5 million, 17,000 square-foot multi-purpose field house project on Tuesday morning.
“This facility will hopefully bring this community together like no other time,” Newton superintendent Pat McBride said. “Teachers will use it, staff members will use it, community members will use it and we all will use it. It will give us a way to do activities together. It will be a way for you to increase your athletic abilities to become fit, to socialize with other community members and we hope the entire community, everyone — from the small ones that are up here to the those that graduate and other community members that maybe are in their 60s or 70s or beyond — all of us are going to benefit from this facility. We look forward to that.”
The field house, located behind the school building in area of the former softball fields, will house community/social events, fitness and exercise facilities open to the community, weight rooms and practice facilities for athletic teams, a year-round batting cage and pitching lane for baseball and softball, and a full-size, college-length basketball court and running track and serve as a venue for public events.
Level MB will serve as the general contractor for the project. Level MB director of construction Matt Gray thanked the community for making the project come to fruition.
Gray introduced several local contractors who will be part of the field house project. Gray said students, their families and community businesses will benefit from the facility’s construction project.
“Our whole approach for this project, as effectively as possible, was try to utilize as many local contractors as possible,” Gray said. “That’s something we are really proud of and really excited about.”
Newton Local Schools principal Danielle Davis said the ground breaking ceremony was a momentous occasion and wouldn’t be possible without the support of the Pleasant Hill community, families and students and staff.
“We all look forward with Level MB to watch this venture grow into something that benefits the whole community, not just a few students,” Davis said. Davis then invited the junior class to take the first official shovel fulls of dirt to mark their place in the school and community’s history.
McBride said the district hopes to complete the facility in December 2019. The project construction will commence in the coming weeks.
McBride said the idea to build the facility was due to increase demand for an all-year round building for both school and community programs, as well as an athletic space for students and community members.
“This will meet our demands for our elementary kids, but also for the community. Every one will benefit from this building. It will be a gathering place for things like family reunions and for more of us to become fit,” McBride said.
McBride said the district’s finances have benefit from its open enrollment which has added nearly $910,000 to the district’s general fund each fiscal year.
“Our district generates about $910,000 in revenue through open enrollment each year, McBride said. “This money comes from those districts that our students are coming from. This, along with favorable state funding budgets the last few years, has allowed us to provide these opportunities to students which keeps Newton competitive as a school of choice for those families looking for a better school district to send their children to than the district that they live in.”
McBride said the Field House will finance $1.75 million of the project over approximately 15 years. McBride said the district invested a $750,000 down payment to start the project and has received $100,000 in private contributions for the field house. McBride estimated yearly payments of $120,000 will be paid with half from the district’s permanent improvement fund and the other half from the general fund. The district has the option to pay the project off at the end of its 10 years payment plan. The district recently paid off its 1999 building addition early due to refinancing, which freed up funds to make the annual payment for the new Field House project, according to McBride.
Reach Melanie Yingst at email@example.com
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