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Hastings volunteers help prepare school facilities for improvements

Helping over the weekend were (front row, from left) Layton Eastman, Robby Slaughter, Joe Goggins, TJ Russel, Caleb Gurtowski, Dan Weatherly, Conner Makled, Brandon Greenfield, Rick Brown, Andrew Haines; (second row) Dan Welton, Julie Welton, Ana Denton, Susan Richmond, Tracey Furrow, Joey Furrow, Ben Furrow, Riley Furrow, Charlie Nickels, Ashland Hoyt, Liam Eastman, Kim Weatherly, Kyle Hoyt, Nick Larabee, Val Slaughter; (third row) Addey Nickels, Todd Wigg, Josey Nickels, Becky Wigg, Cheryl Goggins, Missie Caris, John Kelmer, Scott Denton, Steve Shults, Brad Tolles, Ben Furrow, Don Cook, Ben Eastman, Ethan Caris, Kirby Beck, Rip Eastman, Jennifer Eastman, Roger Caris, Luke Haywood, Brian Weatherly, Jon Vertalka, Chase Youngs, Dan Blair, Tammy Redman; (fourth row) Verne Robins, Austin Bleam, Mike Nickels, Jamie Murphy, Jeff Arnold, Mike Goggins and Dennis Redman. (Photo by Lin Nickels)

Mike Goggins

HASS Athletic Director

In an effort to save the Hastings Area School System money and to help make donation dollars go farther, we have organized volunteers to help with demolition and site preparation before big projects.

Ten years ago, we got volunteers together and totally dismantled the old bleachers in the high school and middle school before new bleachers were installed (thanks to another Baum donation). At that time, we saved the district around $10,000 in demolition costs, plus our shop classes benefited from the metal and wood that was saved for student use. Anything left over was sold for scrap.

The same idea was applied recently with the removal of the fencing around the tennis courts and the removal of the wood decking and seating on the bleachers in preparation for the refurbishment of those facilities.

Twenty-two volunteers, high school tennis Players, their families and coaches met at the tennis courts and dismantled the 10-foot fencing, gates, poles and nets to prepare the courts for demolition and total replacement. It was a great project. Our tennis families started at 11 a.m., and by 2:30 p.m., we were completely finished.

I organized the work session by sending letters home with tennis players asking for help with the project, along with a list of tools and items needed to make the job easier. Our goal was to get 15 people and complete the task in five hours, we got 22 and we had everything we needed to knock the job out in 3 1/2 hours. It was amazing how fast it went.

For the bleachers at the football field, we did the same thing but on a much larger scale. Brad Tolles and a smaller crew had dismantled the visitor side the week before, so he had a good idea of what was needed to complete the home side, so we started sending out letters, emails and using social media to get the word out, and it was crazy how many people came in to help. Brad Tolles and I "guesstimated" it would take about 500 man hours to complete the home bleachers stripping, which included removing all aluminum seats, handrails, bolts, screws, wood, decking, kickboards and risers and cleaning up the area of all debris so the sandblast/painting could be completed.

Our original plan was to get 40 people and work straight through until finished. Because we had youth football games scheduled on the field Saturday Oct. 26, we had to wait until they were completed so start time on the project was 3 p.m. In typical Michigan fashion, rain started right at 3. But to our amazement, 75 people showed up and we got started in the driving rain. It was amazing. The bleachers looked like they were covered with ants, people were everywhere, grinders, saws, ratchets, wrenches were on every part of the bleachers, people were carrying boards down and knocking out the old bolts and stacking the wood. Everybody was working hard in the rain and having a great time. We played music over the new PA system and even put the MSU football game on the scoreboard.

Cheryl Goggins, Tammy Redman and a few others provided snacks and drinks to keep the crew energized. We had ages 7 to 76 working together to get it done. By 5:30 we were over half finished. By then, everybody was so wet and the temperature was dropping. We decided to call it quits for the night asking everyone if they could return in the morning. We hoped we would get 25 people back Sunday morning at 10 a.m. to try to finish. By 10 the next morning we had 50 people and were back at it and completed the job by 11:45.

I also think it’s important to note the real savings to the district and to the donation this kind of efforts creates. The commercial bids for the removal of the tennis fence and the visitor and home bleacher prep was nearly $30,000. In addition, the used wood, and aluminum will be sold for a little more than $5,000. Plus, all other metal will be sold as scrap. We also plan to reuse much of the good fencing from the tennis courts on other facilities in the district and will sell what we don't use. All told, I estimate the savings to the district will be nearly $40,000.

Brad Tolles was really the foreman of our group. His skills made it run so smoothly since we had every skill level there helping – from a licensed contractor to a 7-year-old student picking up dropped bolts and putting them in the scrap bucket. I am not a guy that gets too emotional, but it was truly amazing watching our community’s effort. Maybe we forget how many truly skilled, caring, hardworking folks we have. This is "small-town effort" at its very best. I really feel like it was this group's way of saying "thank you" to the Baums.

In addition to those in the group photograph, others who helped included Tim and Nancy Schoessel, Brad Warner, Zane Warner, Tate Warner, Eric Kohmescher, Nate Kohmescher, Jimmy Dingman, Brian Carroll, Sarah Carroll, Tony Jacinto (and Hungry Howies Pizza) Bruce and Stacy Valentine, Rene Noe, David and Marianne Seidl, Rose Kniaz, Charles Jordan, Mike Murphy, Chad Murphy, Jack Kensington, Brian Teed, Heather Teed, Allison Teed, Noah Teed, Braden Tolles, Kearan Tolles, Becky Deal, Katy Hawthorne, Jacque and Michael Brown. (So sorry if we missed anyone, but we had so many people there.)

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