Students in the Elizabethtown Area School District can thank Susquehanna Bank for the $50,000 they donated toward upgrading the school’s new athletic fields. The “Investing in Our Children, Our Community, Our Future Capital Campaign” has a goal to reach $3.7 million to install synthetic turf on two fields, repair the track and field complex and replace the tennis courts.
In an interview via email, Troy Portser, secretary for the Elizabethtown Area Foundation board of directors, expressed a very positive feeling toward the campaign. Right now, the athletic fields that the students and community are using are deteriorating and have many safety risks due to overwhelming use. There is a strong need to update these fields to keep the students and community safe.
The campaign, which is a partnership between the district and the Elizabethtown Area Education Foundation, a private local charity, will help raise the $3.7 million.
“Through the campaign, the foundation will raise funds to improve school district athletic facilities with no impact on the district’s millage rate. Contributing to the campaign will allow the foundation to raise funds privately to supplement, not supplant, capital improvements that tax dollars cannot provide,” Portser said. “The identified projects will not only benefit school district programs but also many community youth programs and their participants. The campaign allows supporters of Elizabethtown Area athletics and academics to contribute to the project without the need for the district to raise taxes on the entire base of taxpayers.”
With plans to begin a portion of the projects by this summer, the ultimate goals are to introduce two synthetic fields (Thompson Field and Jane Hoover Stadium), repair the track and field complex and replace the tennis courts. Also, there are plans to install lighting for the Jane Hoover Field, which will allow the students and community members to use the fields for more hours of the day.
In an article in the Elizabethtown Journal, Susquehanna Bank’s Vice President Robert Enck commented that the organization is “proud to commit itself to this campaign that is 100 percent about improving the community in which we serve and provide our children with quality programs.” He also mentioned that “Susquehanna Bank believes that providing youth programs is essential to the vitality and future of the greater Elizabethtown Area, and this pledge signifies how strongly we feel about that belief.”
The campaign has raised nearly $700,000 already. “The community has been very generous to date, given the difficult economic state,” Portser continued. “We are about to enter the community phase of the campaign late this spring, and we expect that phase to be well-supported. We are in the process of finalizing the scope of work for this summer and will continue to raise money toward our goal. We have a real need for enhanced field space, so we will continue to plug away at our goal.”
When asked about the spread of the $3.7 million, Portser explained that they would expect more bang for the buck: “Roughly 660 hours are needed to care for each of the two existing grass fields annually or about $20,000 in salary. While turf fields are not no-maintenance, at worst they are low-maintenance, which allows grounds staff to be more productive in other areas of the campus. It is estimated that nearly $30,000 in combined savings annually for grass seed, paint, weed control and top dressing will be realized.”
According to etownschools.org, one way of raising money is to sell coupon books where you can get over $200 in value for the price of only $10. All the proceeds will benefit the campaign.
Other groups that have really helped this campaign raise money include the Hondru Auto Group, which pledged $10,000. In Nov. 2011, Elizabethtown Dental Associates donated $30,000 to support the students and faculty of the Elizabethtown Area School District. Additional supporters include Covanta Energy, Big E Booster Club and other local groups.