New turf project for Hiland soccer field remains on track

New turf project for Hiland soccer field remains on track
Dave Mast

The Hiland soccer field looks great now, but thanks to poor drainage and overuse, by mid-season in the fall the field is oftentimes a mired mess. The committee created to explore new turf for the field had to take a step back from its original plans during this time, but the community donors were in full support of moving forward with the project this summer.


East Holmes Schools went from the excitement of the prospect of a new turf field to exasperation with plenty of questions when the school district shut down for the final two months of the year due to the coronavirus.

The turf field replacement committee had to do some overtime work to figure out the logistics of whether they could pursue their initial desire to have the field in place by the beginning of the 2020-21 school year.

Although funds were in place, they felt the need to reconnect with donors in the community to better understand what their thoughts were on continuing the project.

The response they received was full steam ahead.

Over the last five years, the East Holmes School District has been working to improve the Hiland High School soccer field because it has both drainage- and surface-related issues that affect its usage. During the past year, school personnel, business owners and community members worked together to create a plan to upgrade the playing field with a turf surface.

That plan allowed the district to correct the drainage and surface issues and is expected to increase the use of the field greatly for the school. The current field is used by six East Holmes soccer teams and more than 100 students during the fall season and through the year. With synthetic turf the field can be used by soccer teams year round.

According to Hiland athletic director Art Yoder, “The turf field will make added and new space for baseball, softball, marching band and physical education classes.”

“From the beginning of consideration for the project, it was decided that funding will be 100 percent donated contributions, using no school budgeted funds,” said Erik Beun, East Holmes superintendent.

Beun said January of this year was the kick-off for fundraising. The local support gained significant momentum so that by mid-March the entire project was nearly fully funded with community-pledged donations. If anybody in the community wants to join in the support, call Yoder at the high school.

However, the best-made plans can go awry, and that possibility arose when COVID-19 hit the state and community. In response the soccer field committee decided to do a pause and consult with the East Holmes board, donors and community on whether to reconsider and evaluate the timing of the project moving forward.

“The funds were in place, but we wanted to make sure that the people who were donating the funds were still comfortable with their donation,” Hiland head soccer coach and committee member Scott Bodiker said. “We also felt it was important to get a feel from the public with everything that is going on. Do you take on a project when you know people might be hurting?”

The committee members reached out to over 60 community individuals and business donors for counsel in light of the changed environment, and on the question of moving ahead with the project, they also sought confirmation on the pledged donations.

The feedback was nearly unanimous of renewed support and that the project should proceed as planned. Beun said with the affirmation they received, the decision was made to proceed.

“The (East Holmes School) board is very pleased to announce the project will move forward this spring and summer, making it ready for the fall 2020 season,” said Steve Miller, East Holmes board president. “The initial commitment from donors and the recommitment when they were asked again within the last two weeks is a reflection of the kind of community we live in. Words that come to my mind to describe our community are generous, involved, caring. This entire project will be done with donated funds.”

“Yes, life will return to a new normal when we can again gather, play and work together in our community,” Beun said.

The projected time line for the project is as follows:

—Start May 1 with excavation of current top soil and site preparation.

—Throughout May the surface filled to sub-grade and concrete curb installed around inside of the track.

—In June new drainage installed with final stone subsurface in prep for turf installation.

—In July install new turf, and by Aug. 1, weather permitting, the project will be completed and ready for use.

The East Holmes soccer turf committee includes Yoder, CJ Spreng, Dave Schlabach, Conner Lee, Vince Mullet, Carlos Mullet, Anthony Kaufman, Chris Gertz, David Coil, Bodiker and Beun.

East Holmes board of education members are President Miller, Vice President Julia Klink, and members Jim Gertz, Kyle Miller and Thurman Mullet.

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