E.J. McKean Field could have a new press box by the start of the 2018 football season.

The Tomah School Board’s Facilities Committee Tuesday gave the go-ahead to pursue a new $130,000 structure to replace a press box that coaches have long said is inadequate. The issue is expected to be included on the agenda when the full school board meets Monday, Nov. 20 at Robert Kupper Learning Center.

“It’s a much-needed addition,” school district business manager Greg Gaarder said.

Board president Brian Hennessey called the existing press box an “eye sore” and said the replacement would be an upgrade for both the media and coaches.

The proposal would expand the press box from 24 to 42 feet and include partitions.

The Tomah Gridiron Club has been fundraising for the project and is expected to contribute nearly half the cost. Gaarder said the school district appreciates the financial help.

“Whenever we’re getting donations, it’s a great deal,” he said.

On another issue relating to the football field, the board tabled an offer to install a cell phone tower for Verizon on one of the light poles. The proposed contract would pay the district $2,000 per month over the next 30 years.

However, the deal required 24/7 access to the pole, a maintenance shed and a permanent light. Committee members expressed concern about the project’s potential to alter the illumination of the field and how neighbors would react to a light that never shuts off.

“I would prefer to leave our lights alone,” said district maintenance director Dave Stutzman.

The committee also delayed a plan to install $12,000 worth of drain tile at Dennis Senz Field. Gaarder said a contractor couldn’t be retained this year and that the next possible window for the project is next fall. The facility is the home field for both the high school and American Legion baseball programs.

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Tomah Journal editor

Steve Rundio is editor of the Tomah Journal. Contact him at 608-374-7785.

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