City schools break ground on athletic complex
Published 8:51 am Wednesday, December 3, 2014
The Elizabethton City School system Tuesday celebrated the groundbreaking of the new Elizabethton High School Citizens Bank Stadium with a short ceremony that included the entire EHS student body.
“This is a long-awaited day,” Superintendent Ed Alexander said.
The journey toward the new stadium started four years ago after the school system reviewed the capital plans to determine what the needs were for the schools, Alexander said. Three projects topped the list: a new music room and classroom renovations for EHS, a new athletic complex and new classrooms and renovations at T.A. Dugger Junior High School.
After working with city leaders, a $5 million bond was secured using existing funding from a half-cent sales tax increase voters approved in 2008 to pay for capital needs in the school system.
The bond provided funding for two of the three projects listed in the capital plan — the athletic complex, which broke ground Tuesday, and the music room, which will come before the Elizabethton Regional Planning Commission in January for approval.
Elizabethton Board of Education Chair Rita Booher described the groundbreaking ceremony as a “great day” for the school system.
“I am very grateful to be here today,” Booher said. “This has turned out to be quite the learning experience. I have learned that building a stadium requires patience, commitment and creativity.”
Booher recognized Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss and architect Tom Weems for “going above and beyond” during the planning process. She also recognized Alexander for “fighting the good fight” to get the system to the groundbreaking day.
“This stadium is an example of what happens when people come together,” Booher said. “Hopefully, it will continue to signify that for years to come.”
Alexander recognized the donors that had contributed to make the stadium project possible. These included Joe LaPorte, Sam LaPorte, Rab Summers, Richard Barker, Bill Alvis and Chip Bolton. He also recognized Booher, Weems and former board of education members Matt Cooter and Kim Birchfield for their continued support.
After that, 42 individuals picked up their shovels to officially break ground on the new stadium.
The EHS Betsy Band, ended the ceremony by playing Pharrell Williams’ hit song “Happy.”