Lewis County High School Athletic Director Dustin Cogar has been working hard for one and a half years researching and preparing an ambitious fundraising campaign, “Conquer the Complex.”
This campaign is a four year long fundraiser to raise $1.2 million to upgrade the football and baseball fields, retaining wall and bleachers at the baseball field, bottom bleachers in the gym, the gym floor, and the scoreboards at the stadium and in the gym.
“It’s been 21 years and other than maintenance, there have been no upgrades,” Cogar said.
Cogar said that sponsors have banners at the football field, but they get torn after a few years. He would like to be able to have scoreboards that can display digital ads.
He has also talked with Rich Board at Grafton High School about coming here to talk about this type of fundraising campaign. Grafton High School did this, and raised the money they needed in less time than they
Lewis County High School belongs to the Big Ten Conference and he said 10 schools in that conference have turf playing fields, and Elkins is working towards that goal.
Cogar said that at times the playing fields are not fit for games, which can result in safety issues.
“Teams can forfeit the game if there is standing water on the field,” Cogar said.
Last fall during a football game against Buckhannon-Upshur High School, one of their marching band members lost their shoe in the water and mud on the football field.
“Approximately 270 kids are in athletics and band and use that field. We need to give them something to be proud of," Cogar said.
A committee has been formed to facilitate this campaign, made up of local residents and business leaders.
Cogar is working on a database to send alumni letters. They are also developing a brochure outlining the project, which will also show the nine levels of donations.
“We want it to be a community partnership,” Cogar said.
The costs would be substantial, but the gains in the long run are better. According to a cost analysis, the annual maintenance cost of a natural grass playing field can run $39,999.
The annual cost of field turf would be $5,000. Annual water costs for a grass field are approximately $6,000, where there is no turf. Annual paint cost with grass is $7,500, and there are no annual paint costs with turf.
The other benefits of this project would mean band and athletic competitions could be hosted at Lewis County High School.
“We’re right off I-79, which is easy access from anywhere,” Cogar said.
He added that the LCHS soccer team lost home field
advantage after the B-U versus LCHS football game due to the poor field conditions.
By upgrading the complex, revenue could be generated through hosting regional competitions and other events.
The biggest expenses will be the turf, bleachers and gym floor. If the overall goal is not met after four years, they will begin replacing and updating the areas of highest concern.
The gym floor can not be sanded anymore because of its thinness and the bleachers are missing sets and are pulling away from supports in the wall.
Currently, the football team is using Robert L. Bland Middle School to practice twice a
week. This means they are carrying all their equipment down there and back throughout the season.
If the field is upgraded to turf, they can practice where they play. They will also be able to practice and play games even in the rain.
The track surface has already been replaced, and LCHS are on tap to host the AA Regional Meet, according to Cogar.
He has submitted a formal letter of intent to the Lewis County Board of Education office, which states: “This is a well thought out plan.”
For more information or to donate, call LCHS at 304-269-8315. Donations can be submitted using the name “Friends of Conquer the Complex.”
“People have the heart to give. What better investment than the youth?” Cogar said.