EDITORIAL: Rotary offer better than money

The Oak Harbor Noon Rotary’s offer to raise money for a new high school sports facility was welcome news last week. Whatever money raised will be quite helpful, but even more helpful is the enthusiasm Rotary participation will bring to the project.

The Rotary’s offer, made by highly respected retired Adm. Lyle Bull, comes when the school board is still looking for the right direction to follow on the stadium project. Some significant progress has already been made. A stadium committee was formed that included important input from representatives from Island Construction, with that company’s deep ties to the community. They helped decide that it was impractical and not cost-effective to restore the old bleachers at Memorial Stadium, so the bleachers were torn down. A year ago, that decision would have been ridiculed by a large part of the community, but that didn’t happen thanks to the credibility provided by Island Construction’s involvement.

Now, we have the Rotary Club wanting to join the construction trades people in the project. This is the broadening of community support that the school board has desperately needed. Past decision were largely made by the board, the district administration and paid consultants. Because of the limited hands-on, grassroots involvement, several bond issues that would have solved the athletic facilities problem have failed at the polls.

With the Rotary Club now supporting the project, the school board’s immediate task is to finally decide on the final location and scope of the athletics facilities project. No doubt, the ultimate solution will call for a mix of private fundraising and public money. The Rotary Club can help with the fund-raising, but more importantly, its involvement will raise public interest and support for the project to a new level.

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