By Matthew Burdette
ELKINS – Dozens of alumni, board of trustees and community members gathered in the Hermanson Center Friday afternoon on the campus of Davis & Elkins College to witness the dawning of a new era for the 109-year-old institution.
The celebration marked the culmination of the school’s Raise the Roof Challenge, which kicked off following the collapse of the swimming pool’s roof in 2012. The campaign launched in April with an initial challenge from the Student Assembly to raise $200,000. A little more than a year later, in August, the project was fully funded with nearly $914,000 in contributions.
Those funds allowed the college to make a bevy of improvements to the facility, including the new slanted roof, a new ventilation system, digital pace clocks for lap swimmers and renovations to the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
With the improvements complete, D&E officials dedicated the finished swimming pool to longtime Elkins businessman George A. Myles. Myles passed away in 1999.
His daughter, June, was on hand for the celebration, and was presented with a replica of the dedication plaque by D&E President Michael Mihalyo.
The dedication plaque reads: “Following the pool roof collapse on April 7, 2012, the Student Assembly offered an unprecedented challenge gift of $200,000 toward restoration of the pool; 230 alumni, friends and foundations responded with gifts totaling $914,000 to fund the project.”
“Prominent Elkins businessman and quiet civic leader George A. Myles was a widely respected lumberman known for his fairness and generosity. It is with deep gratitude for his continuing legacy to the campus and wider community that the George A. Myles Pool is dedicated by the Board of Trustees. Oct. 18, 2013.”
“If he only knew what the students think of him for all he’s done for Davis & Elkins College,” Myles said. “He would truly be touched.”
In addition to the improvements to the facility, a new video scoreboard, sponsored by The Inter-Mountain, was installed behind the starting blocks.
“The Inter-Mountain is proud to play a small role in this overall project,” said Publisher and General Manager Heather Henline. “The scoreboard, which I am told is the only one of its kind in the Mountain State to be utilized to showcase swimming, is state of the art. Digital replay and numerous other features will help to bring swim meets to life and to aid in training by allowing real-time review of what happens in the pool.”
“Often, our role at the paper is to cover the story, to be a living history book and to chronicle news in our community as it happens,” Henline added. “Today, we are privileged to be a part of such a positive milestone in D&E’s history.”
Mihalyo and other school officials were quick to point out the new facility isn’t just used by the college. Both the Elkins High School swim team and the Elkins Otters utilize the facilities for competition. The general public also has access to the swimming pool.
“Of course, nothing happens without support,” Mihalyo said. “In terms of funding, it was a bit daunting. We are happy to name this pool after a lontime resident of Elkins. This is something that the entire community can be proud of.”
Pride aside, the dividends already seem to be paying off for the school. The men’s swim team is ranked for the first time in its history. The Senators are 23rd in the nation in NCAA Division II competition.
“I know the work that goes into what you are doing,” said Peggy Hawse, a representative from U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin’s office. “I spoke with Joe this morning, and he told me to tell the Senators that the senator said hello.”
The pool isn’t the only newly minted facility being dedicated this weekend at D&E. At 11:30 a.m. today, college officials will inaugurate the school’s new Astroturf soccer/lacrosse facilities at Allen Fields. The soccer field project cost in excess of $600,000, and also was fully funded through donations. The turf field,which is emblazoned with the D&E logo in the center, opened for play at the start of this year’s soccer season.
Following the field dedication, the women’s soccer team will take on Alderson Broaddus University. The men will play AB at 2:30 p.m.
Saturday’s event is open to the public.