EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the seventh in a series examining the past, present and future of the Campaign for Keyser High School and the progression of the Keyser High School Athletic Complex.)


EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the seventh in a series examining the past, present and future of the Campaign for Keyser High School and the progression of the Keyser High School Athletic Complex.)

If they had it to do all over again, would they do it any differently?
“Probably,” says Mineral County Schools Superintendent Skip Hackworth.
The problem with that idea is, there were a lot of unknowns which came into play when both the Keyser High School Athletic Facilities Committee and the Campaign for Keyser High School started raising funds for the new football stadium.
Those unknowns, Hackworth feels, created a lot of the problem the volunteers have experienced in raising enough funds to make the payments on the athletic facility.
“When we started building the new high school, there was such enthusiasm; everybody said they never thought they'd get a new school,” Hackworth said, noting that enthusiasm seemed to carry over to the community-based fundraising campaign for the extended gym, which was successful in raising enough money to quickly pay off the expansion to the new school gymnasium.
But then fund raising began after that for the football stadium, and the economy began to decline, and people became more cautious with their dollars.
“The time seemed right, but we didn't know the economy was going to fall,” Hackworth said.
“If you look back at what was happening in the country back then, a lot of people's financial worlds were uncertain ... they still are.”
Emphasizing that he does not intend to make the issue political in any way, Hackworth said, “I really think if we would have started in the Clinton era, when everything was booming, things would have been different.”
Board of Education President Kevin Watson agrees.
“I do believe the fund raising efforts have a lot to do with our economy; just like the latest bond not passing had a lot to do with the state of our economy. It was running at a bad time,” he said, noting that “gas prices were at an historic high and we, in turn, were asking for more money to support our schools.”
According to Hackworth, had the bond levy passed in 2008, current discussion about stadium fund raising inadequacies would not be happening.
“The board would have been able to build the stadium, add a gym at Frankfort, and complete all our school renovations, including the cost of a new primary school in Keyser, and the bond would have been half paid off by now,” he said.
“But, Charles Wimer (KHS principal) said it best, 'We are where we are,'” he said.
Watson also feels  fund raising would have been easier if the committee hadn't aimed so high right from the start.
“They wanted everything at once,” he said. “Since 2007, I continuously asked, 'What are the priorities? Let's get our
priority list established and meet the requirements of the WVSSAC (West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission).”
Watson says he received no answers to those questions, and communication – or the lack thereof – was therefore another problem which he feels greatly hindered the fund raising process.
“There was a breakdown in communications,” he said. “ In May of 2010, when Mr. Wimer  came to the board and said that he only had $60,000 to pay the $300,000 bill, I was shocked!
“To know that that complex was in the first year of their payment, that is what triggered me to further investigate what the priorities were and what projects had and had not been completed.”
“We probably should have said, 'We need you to come in and make reports,'” Hackworth admitted, noting that he does not want to place any undue blame on any one individual or committee.
“We can go back a lot of ways and say, 'Why didn't they do this or that?'” but that's not really fair,” he said.
“We owe a lot to the  fund raising committee for what they've done.”
As for issues with the actual construction of the field, Hackworth agrees with Wimer's assessment that things began snowballing when the position of the field was altered from its originally planned position.
“We had a drainage issue. When we had to dig out a drainage area, that changed the plans,” he said.
According to Wimer, the shift in the position of the field led to moving the field house from the end zone to behind the bleachers, which, in turn, led to a larger facility to accommodate both the field house and the press box.
As for Wimer's comments that the construction of the field house was slowed in part because “the board” wouldn't pay for a  second set of blueprints needed when the field house was moved  and combined with the press box, Hackworth takes the blame for that one.
“We had paid for one set of plans. We felt the facility that had been designed would serve the school well,” he said.
(NEXT: Where should the fund raising campaign go from here?)