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Donation received toward new track at WMRHS

by Tara Giles
Sports reporter - Coos County Democrat and Berlin Reporter

Chad Stearns of Mascoma Savings Bank presents members of the Track and Field Sub-Committee a check for $20,000. L-R: Ken Mayer, Co-Chair WMRHS Athletic Booster Club Track and Field Subcommittee, Tim Phillips, Board Member, Dustin Benoit, Senior at WMRHS and a student member of the Track and Field Subcommittee, Chad Stearns, Community Relationship Banker for Mascoma Bank, Tony Ramos, Board Member and Kerry Brady, WMRHS Athletic Director and Co-Chair of the Track and Field Subcommittee. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
March 27, 2019
WHITEFIELD — The non-profit Track and Field Sub-Committee recently received a boost after being presented with a check for $20,000 from Mascoma Savings Bank to put towards the purchase of a 400 meter track to be installed at White Mountains Regional High School.

The closest track in the North Country is located in Berlin. When and if the proposed track is built, it will be open for use by community members. The new rubberized track will have a center grass athletic field with six lanes. There will be two more lanes added on one side to allow for eight lanes for 100 meter sprints and hurdles.

The track athletes from WMRHS have won several state championship titles over the years without a track. This facility would finally give those athletes a chance to compete fairly with other schools.

Mayer explained, "This facility will support soccer, field hockey, ultimate frisbee, physical education and will serve as a community gathering place as well as provide a safe venue for fund raising activities."

Mayer pointed out that there are no shopping malls or many safe sidewalks for the North Country's elderly population to train or partake in rehabilitation exercises.

"This track will be available to them as well," he said.

The committee recently acquired a 501c3 status. This will allow sub-contractors to deduct their expenses while working on the project for tax benefits as well as all personal contributions are tax deductible.

The driving force behind the track project is staff member at WMRHS Ken Mayer. He explained that his main focus is to build the track without burdening any local businesses.

"We do not want to take contributions from local little leagues, soccer leagues, junior and high school athletics and extracurricular activities or draw funds from ongoing WMRHS Booster activities," Mayer said.

Mayer explained that funding will come by way of trust fund applications, corporate sponsors, a GoFundMe page as well as donations. Construction will be provided by local companies who can take advantage of the WMRHS Booster Club's non-profit status.

The committee is looking for local landscape contractors, equipment operators, truck drivers, surveyors, electricians, plumbers, engineering and designers along with volunteer laborers.

"Lower Coös County is a rural area that is hard pressed to raise funds for public investments. They are burdened with high property taxes, challenged school systems, limited economic opportunities and an aging population," said Mayer.

He went on to say, "Our towns face greater pressure to expand their tax base and the population in our five town region has either shrank or stalled. Median household incomes are below the state average."

Mayer noted that the need to secure grants and community donations stems from the fact that public policies to reduce the fiscal capacity of the towns has weakened the ability to invest in public improvement projects.

"Town tax bases are diminished by the extent of land enrolled in 'current use programs' protected by conservation easements or held in public ownership that is taxed at less than full market value or not taxed at all," he added.

Mayer explained that the most substantial cuts came in 2017, "The legislature reduced state aid to public schools by phasing out "stabilization grants" that since 2012, had replaced fiscal disparity with funds of $1,250.00 to $2,000.00 per student."

It was stressed by Mayer to ensure that residents in Twin Mountain, Jefferson, Lancaster and Dalton do not view this as strictly a Whitefield issue.

"It is important that regional town residents understand that this is a regional project," he said.

Lastly, Mayer said, "I am encouraging all to consider – and support – the Boosters proposal. This may be the biggest opportunity I have seen for WMRHS communities to fund the desperately needed track and field solution. It is an investment for our towns. It can serve as a cross generational site. It will blossom as one of the most important meeting places – for all – in our communities."

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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