Forest Park weight room renovations ahead of schedule


FERDINAND — Students and staff at Forest Park Junior-Senior High School will likely be using a newly renovated weight room two weeks ahead of schedule.

The project, which relocates the football locker room and weight room to the area near Buechler Arena that used to house the career and technical education classes, began in mid-August and is scheduled to wrap up in mid-November. Once completed, the weight room will be outfitted with new exercise equipment

“This will help PE (physical education) classes, and it will help sports teams,” said Chris Tretter, the high school golf coach and a member of the project’s fundraising committee.

Forest Park last upgraded its weight room in 1996, with much of the equipment purchased in 1997. In the 21 years since, wear and tear on the facility left Forest Park students and staff unable to sustain a weight training program.

Tretter said many of the machines are broken or unreliable, making it impossible for PE classes and sports teams to do meaningful exercise. In a July Herald article, Tony Hasenour, the high school girls basketball coach and a member of the committee, called the current pieces of equipment “big paperweights.”

The new weight room will have all new equipment, thanks to fundraising efforts by the varsity coaches.

The idea to redo the weight room first came up two years ago when Hasenour and Ross Fuhs, the high school football coach and PE teacher, discussed the poor state of the current weight room. They approached the administration about a future project, and received support.

The coaches then formed a fundraising committee — including Hasenour, Fuhs, Tretter and high school assistant football coach Jeff Bettag — and set a goal of $148,000 to include luxury items such as a sound system, Tretter said, but identified $123,000 as the baseline needed to at least get the flooring and exercise equipment.

Fundraising efforts began in early 2018, and community members and businesses quickly rallied around the cause. Now, the fundraiser is about $7,500 away from its $148,000 goal. “We’ve had a very generous and supportive community,” Tretter said.

In July, the school board agreed to cover the cost of the renovation — $570,000 — using the remaining funds from the 2017 bonds the school took out to cover the new career and technical building.

To round out the project, last week the board approved a $48,000 plan for landscaping the area between the new weight room and Buechler Arena, to be paid by the school corporation. The plan demolishes the old concrete to create a safer traffic pattern with an emphasis on pedestrian traffic in the area, additional parking and ADA-compliant sidewalks.

Even with the additional work, Tretter said, students and staff will be able to use the facility in about five weeks.

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