KEYSER - The Mineral County Board of Education will not be making a decision on the Frankfort Athletic Boosters' request for lighting until at least June.
By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The Mineral County Board of Education will not be making a decision on the Frankfort Athletic Boosters’ request for lighting until at least June.
Missy Clark and Jay Hesse of the FHS Boosters appeared before the board on April 17 to ask them to consider funding the installation of lights on the school’s baseball, softball and soccer fields.
Clark said at the time that they had received two rough quotes on the lighting prior to coming to the board, and the cost could be anywhere from $385,000 to a little over $600,000.
She also said the Boosters had agreed to foot the bill for getting the electricity to the fields.
Tuesday, however, superintendent Shawn Dilly said he had reservations about Frankfort’s request because it was made “at the end of the school year and the end of the budget.”
Dilly went on to say that the county has several other improvement projects which he feels should have priority over the lights. Among them are renovating the Fort Ashby Primary bathrooms to bring them into ADA compliance and renovating the office at Frankfort to increase the security of the building entrance.
Dilly also noted that work he said the FHS volunteers had previously done at the soccer field “will cost the county probably $30,000-$50,000 to correct the hillside that is now eroding away.
“We want to address some of these safety things first… they are all some pretty significant things,” he said.
Dilly also spoke about a program he is pursuing that could result in some funding coming to the county for energy efficiency, and because of that, he felt any decision on the lighting request might be better made at a later date so it would not interfere with what looks like a promising program.
“We are looking at HVAC units at Keyser Middle School … and the Tech Center,” he said, adding that he is also looking into the possible installation of geothermal units for both schools.
“To throw lights in there right now might compromise that,” he said.
Neither Dilly nor the board members, however, ruled out the Boosters’ lighting request.
“This year is our last payment for the Keyser High School stadium,” Dilly said. “We could continue to budget that amount to the other end of the county.”
Board member Tom Denne suggested installing lights one field at a time to help ease the cost to the county.
Member Mary Jane Baniak asked if the lights could be included in the energy efficiency program, and Dilly replied that he felt they should be.
Board president Rob Woy acknowledged all the volunteerism and fund raising that the Frankfort Boosters have done over the years since Frankfort opened in 1976, but also commented that any volunteers working for their schools need to make sure they work together with the board.
“I think the principals need to be made aware and the county needs to be involved in these things before a shovel is turned over,” he said.
“We’re not in a position any more to go out and pay for mistakes down the road.”
Board treasurer Rhonda Martin also said she has reservations about the request, especially since the county has been struggling to fund teaching positions.
“I’m not against it … it’s just that we’re so far over formula … We have spent so much time in meetings figuring out what we’re going to do. In my mind, to turn around and do this just doesn’t seem financially responsible,” she said.
Baniak said she feels the residents of the Frankfort District need to be reassured that “the priority is there.”
“Can we have a goal date of when we’re going to revisit this?” she asked.
Dilly suggested placing the request back on the agenda in June.