Organization moves forward with athletic goals at PBHS

PHILIPPI – A grass-roots community group hoping to renovate the Philip Barbour High School field invited potential members to a community meeting Thursday.

Friends of George Byrer Field, a group with an estimated 35 volunteer members, met at PBHS to discuss plans and introduce their goals to the public.

“It’s all for the kids, that’s what the whole thing’s about,” Philip Barbour High School Principal Mark Lamb said.

The group wants to raise funds to move forward with the athletic complex renovations initially proposed in a failed 2012 school bond. The project is an estimated $5 million undertaking.

The group is currently working to prepare a website and marketing materials, and to secure a non-profit license. The group is co-chaired by Mike Cveckho and Brian Bibey and includes other chairpersons of various sub-committees with specified goals. Lamb said that to accomplish their goal, he believes more than 20,000 hours of volunteer work will be necessary.

Although the group aims to raise the entire $5 million, they plan to start smaller by utilizing initial funds to work on smaller sub-projects. The first goal is to raise the $250,000 needed to replace the field lighting.

Lamb said he hopes that by replacing the field lighting first, people will see the group is serious about this project and can further visualize the total concept.

According to an estimate sought by Lamb from ProGrass, the completion of the first project phase will be $629,774, including a synthetic field turf, blue end zones, a new goal post and an asphalt track. Lamb said he hopes to have the turf permanently striped for football, soccer and lacrosse.

The group plans to raise funds by seeking help from community contributions, donations from corporations that support sports programs, applying for grant money and asking Alderson Broaddus University alumni for some help as well.

“We’re not going to raise this kind of money doing bake sales,” Lamb said.

Jesse Weiner, the head cross country and track and field coach for ABU, said he already has permission to contact alumni track members. He co-chairs the ABU sub-committee with ABU Women’s Cross Country Coach Jim Seaton.

The group’s committees include the Finance and Grant Committee, chaired by Doug Schiefelbein, and including Jeff Rogers and John Armentrout.

Schiefelbein suggested that once the website is launched, the group should be very transparent with its finances. He proposed posting the amount of money collected by each individual. He said the website would not have to list the names of contributors.

“You want to have credibility,” Shiefelbein said.

Lamb said his consultation with two lawyers led the group to attempt to facilitate funds through the county Board of Education. The Barbour BOE agreed to act as a facilitator, allowing the opening of a separate account to be utilized for donations and contributions, and to pay only for the athletic project. Two members of Friends of George Byrer Field and two administrators with the BOE will sign receipts for all of the accounts transactions in order to maintain transparency.

Other committees include the Technology Committee, which is chaired by Charlie Curkendall and includes participation from Nancy Curkendall and PBHS Band Director Victor Iapalucci.

“It’s more than an athletic complex, it’s my classroom,” Iapalucci said.

Lamb said the Band Boosters also are on board with the project.

The Philip Barbour Alumni Committee is chaired by Tina Shriver and has participation from Bibey and Danny Wagner. The Marketing Committee is co-chaired by Ron Jones and Christian Stull.

The VIP Committee is chaired by Josh Foltz. The Center of Influence Committee is chaired by Tracy Malcomb Rexrode.

Members voted Thursday for Lisa Heignbaugh to be the group’s secretary.

Lamb said he wants the organization to be involved in the community for the long term, and to stay organized even after the goal of renovating the high school athletic complex is realized.

“I don’t want this committee to ever die,” Lamb said. “I want it to go on forever, as long as there’s a PBHS.”

Lamb said he will not turn down any help. Everyone who is interested is welcome to attend the group’s next meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. May 1 at PBHS. For those who cannot attend, but are still interested in learning how they can get involved, call Lamb at 304-457-1360 or send email to mlamb@access.k12.wv.us.