Work day set for Fayette running track 8.20

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Fayette athletes from the mid-1970s and earlier will remember that the running track of the day didn’t resemble a perfect oval of a normal track.

It was closer to the shape of a ball field, recalls Leo Wixom who served as track and field coach for the school.

“It wasn’t much of a track,” he said.

There was a straight section following the first-base line to the outfield, then a curve around the outfield, then a straight-away back along third base, and a sharp curve in back of home plate.

It was a little difficult to run a 100-yard dash race when there was no 100-yard straight-away, he said.

In 1974, when Robert Nyce was president of the Fayette park board, a plan was submitted to the Army Corps of Engineers office Bryan for the construction of new park facilities.

The Army Corps was consulted because the rerouting of Spring Creek was an important first step. At that time, recalls Dee Ferguson who was a park board member at the time, the creek veered farther to the north and plans called for a new channel directly east.

This would allow space for construction of a regulation quarter-mile running track. The master plan also included a new ball diamond, shelter house, picnic area, tennis courts and a soccer field inside the track.

Construction got underway in 1977 on the new six-lane track. It was excavated to a depth of six inches and filled with a fine gravel rather than the cinders used on many area tracks.

“It was a top-of-the-line track,” Wixom said. “Everybody really like it.”

The track served the school and community for a couple of decades until the varsity team stopped using it in the late 1990s. Flooding problems damaged a portion of the track and hard-surface tracks were becoming prevalent at many area schools.

“Before it started flooding in the southeast corner, we had some really good junior high invitationals,” Wixom said. “But once it flooded and washed out, we couldn’t get a good base established.”

The track is now used only for practices and no meets are scheduled in Fayette.

Former park board member Tom Spiess  recalls that when the Army Corps formed a new channel for the stream, riprap was place on the banks, but much of that has been covered with sediment through the years.

A five-inch rain in early July sent flood water onto the track once again and further damaged the southeast area.

Time for repair

Fayette mayor Anita Van Zile is leading an effort to repair the village-owned track.

“We need to get the track back into a condition that can be useful to the community and the track teams. The village has a responsibility to keep it in good shape.”

She’s set a work day on Sept. 6 and plans to line up specific tasks and equipment so volunteers can arrive and get a lot accomplished in a day.

She intends to remove encroaching grass and take the track back to its original 18-foot width. In addition, gravel needs to be brought in and raked onto certain areas and the flooding problem needs to be examined.

She knows that many people are looking forward to a new track at the new school, but the cost is prohibitive.

Leslie Fruchey of the Fayette Athletic Boosters said the group has a track fund, but only a small fraction of the estimated $250,000 to $300,000 cost is in the savings account.

The Boosters are working with the school to establish plans for athletic facilities. The goal is to establish new fields and a track in phases as funding are available. The state funds that paid for 80 percent of the new school cost cannot be used for athletic facilities.

“We need to take care of what we’ve got,” Van Zile said, knowing that new facilities aren’t going to be available soon.

She sees the track renovation effort as important to both school and community and she’s hoping to see representatives from both parties willing to help out Sept. 6.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.pokemon
    LATEST CRAZE—David Cortes (left) and Ty Kruse, along with Jerred Heselschwerdt (standing), consult their smartphones while engaging in the game of Pokémon Go. The virtual scavenger hunt comes to life when players are in the vicinity of gyms, such as Stair District Library, and PokéStops such as the fire station across the street. The boys had spent time Monday morning searching for Pokémon at Wakefield Park.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Girls.on.ride
    NADIYA YORK and Aniston Valentine take a spin on the Casino, one of the rides offered at Wakefield Park during Morenci’s Town and Country Festival. This year’s festival remained dry but with plenty of heat during the three-day run. Additional photographs are inside this week’s Observer.
  • Front.softball
    Angela Davis (2) and teammate Allison VanBrandt break into a jig after Morenci's softball team won its third consecutive regional title.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.

Weekly newspaper serving SE Michigan and NW Ohio - State Line Observer ©2006-2016