New Track Put Off A Year

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Due to a depleted budget, the long-awaited artificial surface all-weather track at Payson High School will probably have to wait at least one more year.

"It's a disappointment. We were hoping to get it done (this summer)," Payson Schools Superintendent Herb Weissenfels said.

Longhorn track coach Chuck Hardt agreed. "It's a huge disappointment for a lot of people."

With no all-weather surface in place, Payson High School's offer of last spring to host the 2001 East Regional Track and Field championships will have to be withdrawn, Hardt said. "They (athletic directors and coaches) won't hold the championships on a dirt track."

Also, knowing Payson had plans for a new running surface, the USA Track and Field organization had shown considerable interesting in holding amateur meets in the Rim country next summer.

Now that the new track has been put on hold, USATF officials will surely cancel those plans, Hardt said.

The original stadium improvement itinerary showed construction on the state-of-the-art track surface beginning this summer. However, due to the unanticipated $30,000 construction costs of moving a collapsed sewer line and two manholes on the PHS track, the original $201,000 budget will probably not be sufficient to complete the project, school district Business Manager Bobette Sylvester said.

While the district won't be able to go forward with the all-weather track in the next few months, it does plan to go ahead with excavating the south bank of the stadium, possibly building a retaining wall at the site and moving the stadium bleachers from the north to the south side of the football field, Weissenfels said.

All were part of the original improvement plan.

Because the sewer phase of the stadium project exceeds $15,000, district officials will have to put the job up for bid. State law states any projects over that amount must be bid upon.

The school board will be asked at its regular scheduled Monday evening meeting to allow just that.

Where will it come from?

According to Weissenfels and Sylvester, the best hope for acquiring the money to complete the stadium project and build the all-weather track is through money acquired through Credit for Kids.

The program dates back to 1997 when the State Legislature passed a bill allowing individuals to deduct fees paid to schools for extracurricular activities as tax credit.

In the first year of the program, local taxpayers donated $113,779 to the district. Last year the amount increased to $144,900.

If enough money is received this year, the stadium plan could be completed, Weissenfels said.

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