Community comes together to celebrate LaPorte Track grand opening

Published 12:36 am Saturday, September 10, 2016

Star Photo/Bryce Phillips Members of the Elizabethton High School track and field and cross country teams joined the LaPorte family in cutting the ribbon during Friday's LaPorte Track ribbon cutting.

Star Photo/Bryce Phillips
Members of the Elizabethton High School track and field and cross country teams joined the LaPorte family in cutting the ribbon during Friday’s LaPorte Track ribbon cutting.

Cyclone Pride was out in full force Friday morning at Elizabethton High School.
Following a collaborative effort from the Elizabethton City School System, Citizens Bank Tri-Cities Foundation and LaPorte Foundation, city officials and school students celebrated the grand opening of LaPorte Track — effectively putting the stamp on the renovations of the facility.
“At the end of the day, it is all about the kids,” Joe LaPorte III, with Citizens Bank and the LaPorte Foundation, told the Elizabethton Star. “It was such an awesome feeling to show up and see the community come out and see the upgrades that were put together for our kids.”
With over 3,700 attendees on hand, the celebration was a great way to put a stamp on a long time project for the community, according to Elizabethton City Schools Superintendent Dr. Corey Gardenhour.
“We appreciate everyone’s efforts that made this day possible,” Dr. Gardenhour said. “Today really put an exclamation point on all the work that has been done and we appreciate the LaPorte family for their work and their dedication to the kids and the community.”
Along with the grand opening, a plaque was unveiled at the facility, recognizing the efforts of the four LaPorte brothers: Joe, Chris, Sam and Stephen, who were each in attendance.
“From my perspective, it was such a great feeling seeing all the excitement,” Joe said. “Seeing all the thanks from everyone really is humbling. But we all came together on this project to make sure we can provide the best we can for our students.”
The partnership between the LaPorte family and ECS is a joy to be part of, Joe added.
“Working with Dr. Gardenhour, he’s such a great guy,” he said. “If you’re looking at someone to get a job done, look no further than Corey. Every project has its challenges … we were hoping to have this project completed by the spring of last year and the price of the project was three times more than originally budgeted. But every step of the way, Corey was on top of everything. He would say ‘now Joe, we had a setback, but we’ll find a way around it.’ He never backtracked from what he set out to do.”
With a price tag of approximately $434,000, the ECS and foundation split the price tag to fully outfit the track to be used for students at the school and help cut down on the risk of injuries.
Benyon Sports Surfaces handled the duties of resurfacing the track and working with other intangibles to make sure athletes and citizens have a quality track to use.
“We want to encourage our students to use this track,” Dr. Gardenhour said. “We had the cross country team, track and field team, our band members, cheerleaders, football … we offer all these different activities and we encourage our students to utilize what we have to offer. The great thing about this track is we’ll be able to host track and field meets in the spring. Our athletes were having to go to Johnson City to practice. We’re glad that our students now have access to a first class facility.”
As attendees, donned in their black and orange apparel, took part in the inaugural “Cyclone Lap” Friday, Joe LaPorte III said the track will be an asset for students and the community.
“When you get to my age, the rubber on the track does feel better on your feet,” Joe said with a laugh. “We really wanted the community to come out and see what a difference has been made at the track.”

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