A group of local citizens, alumni and students will be holding a Callathon from 5 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 30 to try and encourage residents to donate to help support efforts to upgrade the sports fields at Killdeer High School.
By Pat Ratliff
The sports facilities at Killdeer High School are in bad shape. The track is full of potholes and the surface is missing in many places. Drainage on the football field is slow and sometimes almost nonexistent. And the lighting for the football field is in very bad shape.
How bad is the sports complex?
No track meets have been held here since 2006. Two football games in two years have been moved to a different location because of field conditions.
“Those decisions are made by the Athletic Director and Superintendent and are based on the safety of the field,” according to Lou Dobitz, football coach at Killdeer High School.
Moving home games away puts our home teams at a disadvantage, but this really isn’t about winning… it’s about safety and community.
And it doesn’t involve just football games and track meets.
“There are no baseball fields now,” Linda Kittilson, co-chair for committee to raise funds said. “And no practice fields for the football teams. The “tundra” field is no more.”
“The football field is in really poor shape,” Football Coach Lou Dobitz said. “They’ve done some soil testing.
“The topsoil they brought in years ago isn’t very good, and it’s sitting on top of sandstone.”
Dobitz said when it rains the water doesn’t drain very well, and in the spring it’s then covered with ice.
The football field also is not level, but “feels like it goes up and down,” according to Dobitz.
So the football field is not used for practices either.
“For practices we have no place to go,” Dobitz said. “North of the school there’s a place to practice about 40 yards wide by 50 yards long.
“But that has to be used by both the high school and junior high teams.
“There’s no way to practice live special teams… or anything like that.”
Dobitz said they know how bad the football field is so they don’t even practice those special teams there.
But if the Callathon is successful, things may change for student athletes.
“The kids need a safer place to practice and play than they have now,” Kittilson said. “And we don’t want to continue to have to play playoff games in Dickinson. There’s the potential of even having to play regular season games there.”
The renovations for the sports complex will cost “at least” $1.3 million, according to Suzi Tuhy, co-chairman of the committee. “The School is contributing about $650,000, and we’ve raised over $76,000 in private business donations, so we’re over halfway there. We need about $574,000 more.”
What’s critical is the timing. The committee members would like to be able to make arrangements for the project to proceed in January.
“We want to be able to tell the contractor it’s a go in January, that’s the deadline,” Tuhy said. “That gives him the lead time to be able to start in May, after track ends, and finish the job before football next fall.”
Phase 1 of the project will include a new track, an artificial turf for the football field (with drainage problems solved underneath) and new lights.
Phase 2 will include new bleachers and concession stand.
“We’re getting down to the end,” Kittilson said. “There’s only one month left if we don’t want to have to wait another year.”
Kittilson also said people who want to donate don’t have to wait to get called. Donations may also be made to the Cowboy Sports Complex Fund by going to the North Dakota Community Foundation’s website at
www.NDCF.net/Killdeer. Select Cowboy Sports Complex.
She notes that during the Callathon, people should be able to use caller ID to verify the calls asking for donations are legitimate.
Tuhy also notes that donators will receive a certificate of their donation back, so they can take it to their accountant. They should be sent out in early January.
There will also be an informational Open House at the Killdeer School at the same time as the Callathon. Everyone is welcome to attend. Refreshments will be served.