Centralia College celebrated the official groundbreaking for its new athletic field on Wednesday.
Joined by students, alumni, local office holders and members of the public, Centralia College President Bob Mohrbacher welcomed the audience and delivered remarks on the facility, which when built will be the first athletic field on campus since 1989.
The new turf facility will be used for baseball, softball and soccer.
“We’re here to celebrate a dream becoming a reality … There are many, many people to thank,” Mohrbacher told the audience.
“I especially want to thank the students of Centralia College,” he said, noting that a large portion of the funds for the field were raised as a result of a fee students voted to impose on themselves.
Student Body President Marisol Vargas also spoke to attendees.
“Students of Centralia College have put close to $8.5 million toward this project,” Vargas excitedly told the crowd.
“I want to thank the many students over the years who have helped,” Vargas added. “Go Blazers!”
Mark Schiebmier, a member of the Centralia College Board of Trustees, gave an abridged history of the college from its founding to the present.
“Welcome to the oldest continuously operated community college in the state of Washington,” Schiebmier said with a smile.
“This project is 100 years in the making,” he said as he proceeded to detail the college’s multiple brushes with going under and the rise and subsequent demolition of the college’s last sports field, Noble Field, which was named for a soldier killed in World War I.
He mentioned the first graduating class in 1927, five students, all of whom went on to attend the University of Washington.
“The college was owned and operated by the (Centralia) School District,” Schiebmier told the crowd, explaining how it was only in 1967 that it became a state college as a result of a law passed by the state Legislature.
According to Schiebmier, the field now under construction has been planned for decades, having been included in a 1995 master plan created by the college.
The field had been planned for the exact location it will soon be constructed in front of the Michael Smith Gymnasium.
According to the college, work on the addition began in 1999 when the college started purchasing 40-some lots needed for the complex.
As Schiebmier’s speech came to a close, he mentioned again how the college had gained a field, lost it, and now is gaining a new athletic field.
“In some ways we’re coming full circle,” Schiebmier said.
Shortly before students and other guests were invited to take part in the groundbreaking, Mohrbacher returned to the podium and delivered some brief words thanking the man who had been in charge of the field’s development for the last few years before his retirement.
“Perhaps most importantly, thank you to Steve Ward,” he said of the longtime college administrator credited with crafting and carrying out the college’s master plan.
According to Centralia College, demolition and site preparation as well as electrical, lighting and water systems work will take the project into summer. Fences, curbs and the field base is scheduled to be completed in early fall. Turf installation and finishing work is expected to be completed in October or November.
The college plans to add a men’s soccer team once the field is completed.
The Centralia College Foundation is raising funds to provide ancillary equipment to enhance the athlete and fan experience. The foundation’s recent gala raised money for sound systems for all three fields, as well as portable bleachers for soccer and overflow seating.
The Centralia College Foundation will be seeking donors to sponsor other amenities for the field. If you are interested or have ideas, contact Christine Fossett at 360-623-8451 or email@example.com.
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321 N. Pearl St. Centralia, WA 98531 360-736-3311