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Wimer Stadium

Will Randolph BOE keep tradition alive?

Frank Wimer was a man of faith, a man of courage and a man of determination. He was a veteran of the armed services, an educator, a coach and a father — not only to his own children. He was a father figure to every student and player he taught in a classroom or on the field. Anyone lucky enough to have known Frank Wimer might well have said he was the greatest citizen Elkins ever had.

It was on a grass field and/or a coal cinder track where thousands of kids learned to grow up and start to understand how hard work and determination could result in a successful life. It was only fitting for that piece of ground in South Elkins where so many learned to bear the name Wimer Stadium.

Pride, tradition and honor might describe Frank Wimer but he was much more than that, just as Wimer Stadium is much more than a football field.

It has been a gathering destination for decades and the influence of this place extends far beyond sports. Over the years thousands of kids in polished band uniforms would line up in the center of Elkins and proudly march to this magical place. Many residents and visitors who had no intentions of attending a football game would line the streets of Elkins and applaud these kids while the Elkins City Police led the way.

We were saddened last year to learn — just weeks before the first Elkins High School football game of the season — that the bleachers at Wimer Stadium were unsafe and could not be used. Later we would be told that these bleachers would be taken down rather than be repaired.

We are thankful that no one was injured due to unsafe bleachers. That would have been a tragedy.

However, a lot of dedicated alumni opened up their pocketbooks and wallets to give generously to enhance the stadium capacity a number of years ago. The result of their efforts created a friendly atmosphere for people to attend football games and many other activities at Wimer Stadium.

Did school system administrators take into consideration how these people — who donated the hard-earned dollars that helped build the stadium bleachers in the first place — felt when they saw the bleachers coming down, only to become scrap for the taking?

Will Wimer Stadium be renovated and preserved?

At the last Randolph County Board of Education meeting, Board member Melodee Price asked when the school system administration would make a proposal about Elkins High School football.

Brad Smith, director of finance for Randolph County Schools, said a proposal would be presented to the board during the upcoming regular meeting on May 4. He noted a presentation would be offered, along with documents, figures and reference letters.

Price asked whether the board would review the proposal and vote on it during the May 4 meeting. Smith said the “hope” is to “do it all in one night.”

Since the “unsafe bleachers” announcement last August, the school system administration has been extremely reluctant to offer information or respond to questions about the stadium situation. Residents have spoken at meetings and in letters to the editor about what they call the lack of transparency in the school system’s handling of the Wimer Stadium issue.

Now a proposal will be presented and voted on in a single meeting — without giving the public, or even the board members, time to look over the plan?

We hope the board sees the value of continuing to have parades through downtown Elkins, of hundreds of proud parents and fans cheering on the EHS band members as they march to what we call a magical destination, Wimer Stadium.

We hope the board sees the value of continuing the tradition that these kids’ parents, grandparents and great grandparents took part in.

We hope the school system unveils a sound plan on May 4 to rebuild the bleachers and keep Wimer Stadium alive for many years to come. Any other decision will most likely be a huge disappointment to anyone who has any connection to Elkins High School or Coach Wimer.

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