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7th-grader makes a difference

Steve Ranson
LVN Editor Emeritus

Fallon seventh-grader Liam Few will remember 2019 as a year of change at Churchill County Middle School.

At a May Churchill County School District meeting, Few Few approached the board of trustees and said the middle-school track and infield looked like an eyesore. He gave a 15-minute presentation with images showing the infield’s condition and the inadequate drainage area around the track. He previously talked to numerous people about the condition and what steps would be needed to improve it such as either re-seeding the infield or laying sod down.

Few, though, remained pessimistic because the school district has planted grass in the infield several times during the past 20 years, but for one reason or another, it died. The trustees, though, took him seriously after his presentation seven months ago. Instead of discounting Few’s concerns, trustees expressed a desire to improve the field.

Trustee Fred Buckmaster expressed his support during that early May board meeting.

“I would like to see the field in better shape,” said Buckmaster who both played and coached football on the former high-school field. “Bradley Field is a big part of this community.”

An early Christmas wish came true for Few and his classmates. He learned the school district had allocated funds to improve the field so students could use it during the lunchtime for their activities.

CCMS Principal Amy Word said the district had received a grant for security and safety, and that freed up additional money up in the budget. Over the months, though, Few had spoken with the district’s maintenance director, Ozzie Henke, several times about the need for mprovements.

“He told me we had to show the school district we want to take care of it,” Few said, adding the students would be responsible for ensuring they picked up the trash, especially after the weekend.

Henke said he had pitched a similar project to plant grass several years ago to the former superintendent. He began a soil analysis and identified a five-year capital improvement plan. In the fiscal year 2018 and 2019 budgets, he put aside $50,000 for each year.

“It was really good timing,” he said. “I had planned to do half the field at a time.”

As Henke was looking at his plan, Few expressed his concerns. The district, though, decided to lay down sod on the entire field in the fall because many landscapers want to sell their remaining supply. Henke said CCSD received a good price from J & K Llamas, and with labor, the total expenditure cost under $70,000 to lay down 67,000 square feet. The price mostly included field preparation, improvements to the sprinkler system and labor. With some shifting of the budget, Henke said the school district was able to fund and complete the project.

Rolls of sod were delivered, and Few had the honor of laying down the first roll. Word said it took about three weeks to complete the project. The field should be ready sometime during the spring, but Word said the grass needs at least two mowings before students can play on it.

“The kids want to use the area for football and soccer,” she said. “The students are so active they want to use it at lunch time.”

Few, though, said during the fall, youth football or soccer teams could practice on the infield to reduce congestion at the other fields. Currently, all CCMS track meets are held at the high-school field.

“Our goal is to have football games and track meets here,” Few said.