Mingo Central High School will soon begin its sixth year as a consolidated institution of learning. However, the state-of-the-art complex promised to students is still without several of its athletic facilities.
When the first conversations began about consolidation, the students, faculty and citizens of these four communities were promised a great athletic complex.
The Miners do not have a baseball field, softball field, tennis courts or soccer field. These sports fields were promised when the discussions began to consolidate Williamson, Burch, Matewan and Gilbert High Schools.
But the student athletes, coaches and fans are still waiting.
The basketball team has a nice gymnasium because it was part of the school building that the state built when they mandated the consolidation that many local citizens fought against.
The late Buck Harless generously donated millions of dollars to help build the beautiful 5,000 seat football stadium that the Miner football teams play on. If not for Harless, no doubt the football team would still be playing at one of the old fields. (The parking lot is still dirt and gravel and has never been paved.)
Yet the baseball, softball, soccer, track and tennis teams are the step-children when it comes to facilities.
The state school officials said they would not provide money to build the other sports facilities when they built MCHS. The county school system obviously doesn’t have the money to build the other parts of the sports complex that was promised to the community.
Even the dressing room and weight room facility located beside the football stadium has had its issues during the winter months. On several occasions the water pipes froze and leaked into the building. This forced school officials to shut off the water, but then the football team and wrestling team had nowhere to lift weights or work out.
The soccer team has had to play at the old Burch High School football field. The baseball team has played at the old Gilbert High School field and Lefty Hamilton Park in Williamson. The tennis team has played at the Harless Center, but plays most of their matches on the road or at the Logan Convention Center. The track team has to participate in all of their meets on the road and doesn’t even have a track to practice on.
There was a group organized and a move to help get donations to build these fields, but not much has come of that. The economy has dried up in the area and the coal business is in a tailspin.
There have been rumors that certain individuals said they would donate equipment and time to grade off the areas that were set aside for the baseball and softball fields. Then perhaps money could be generated to build fences and dugouts for those diamond sports.
Sponsors could be acquired to erect scoreboards for both the softball and baseball fields.
Perhaps part of the school’s huge parking lot could be redesigned to build a couple of tennis courts. (They can take cue from the Williamson Park Board on fixing a tennis court.)
Many parents and grandparents are upset about the situation as the new school heads into its sixth year of existence.
This is indeed a travesty and citizens should be upset. Who could blame them?
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)