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Firm to help finalize turf project

Ironton turf on web

Staff Report


Christmas came early.

With a $440,000 grant to match the donations already received, Ironton High School is about to realize the culmination of a two-year project to raise funding for the Tanks Memorial Stadium field turf.

“What has to be one the biggest gifts in Ironton sports history is on the books to Challenge our Community,” said Mark LaFon, Ironton High School athletic director and head basketball coach.

The gift is part of a million dollar collaborative campaign between the Ironton Turf Committee, The Tiger Clan Booster Group and The Tanks Memorial Stadium Fund.

“Without any further delays, the Ironton Fighting Tigers will kick off in the fall of 2014 on the most advanced synthetic turf on the market today,” said Ironton school board member Mark Fields who is part of the multiple groups who have moved this project forward.

The $440,000 dollar gift will be paid over an 8-year period and is a challenge gift to attract other funds. The Tiger Turf Committee has run a successful campaign and their funds will be combined with that of the anonymous pledge and other funds that have been identified.

Additionally, the newly formed collaborative effort has identified other projects that include the renovation of the Conley Center gym floor and a sports capitol fund to be used on other projects that arise.

“This is a once in a lifetime gift intended to improve our High School. I am hopeful with all of the stops and starts behind us, we can move forward as one concerned group on behalf of our kids,” said Mr. Dean Nance, superintendent of Ironton City Schools.

The balance of the funds will be raised between now and the end of the year. The groups have hired the Cincinnati based firm JMH Development who will coordinate all of the efforts and actively pursue new partnerships.

Matt Hughes, who is just finishing a $1.7 million drive for Chillicothe’s new athletic complex, conducted a leadership assessment in Ironton that reflected a lot of positive input and potential funding from over 25 individuals, families and businesses including Texas A&M defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, one of Ironton’s most celebrated athletes.

“Obviously the leadership gift of $440,000 will get things headed in the right direction, the key is to have everyone on board and represented,” Hughes said. “You have some of the most passionate fans and supporters I have ever been a part of. I played here for Chillicothe, and Ironton has always been a formidable opponent, in shape, high spirited etc.

“Now they will have a facility the whole town can be proud of and get behind. Moving forward, it is not about us, it is about the kids. For all of the things that may have divided us in the past, let’s use this gift, the new turf, the Conley Center, and our kids as the one thing that brings us together.”

The Tanks Memorial Stadium Fund is a 501 c-3 organization and will be advertising a request for proposal to ensure the field turf is not only the best but the most competitively priced.

“There are a lot of people who worked really hard to get us to this point, and I can’t thank them enough, the volunteers, the donors to date, this is about all of our kids, the band, the cheerleaders, the students, the fans.”

“Friday nights have always been special. Now we will not only have the best team, we will have one of the best facilities,” said Jodi Rowe-Collins, a key volunteer and executive-vice president of Citizens Deposit Bank.

For more information contact Hughes at 513-379-7321 or LaFon at (740) 532-5235.