Group close to fundraising goal for new weight room

Photos by Nic Antaya/The Herald
Forest Park football players exercised during a morning at Forest Park High School in Ferdinand on Wednesday. Assistant coach Nathan Lueken said it is hard to get the whole team together because the workout facility is small and as a result they have to host team workouts in the morning as well as the evening.

By ALLEN LAMAN
alaman@dcherald.com

FERDINAND — The Forest Park Junior-Senior High School weight room is filled with outdated and broken equipment, and community donors are pitching in to give students and athletes a better facility for pumping iron.

Over the past year, a committee of teachers and coaches have orchestrated a fundraising campaign that has raked in more than $100,000 in donations and pledges to outfit the school with a completely new weight room.

At the Southeast Dubois School Board’s monthly meeting July 11, committee members revealed that the group is about $40,000 shy of hitting their $148,000 goal.

Tony Hasenour, Forest Park High School girls basketball coach and a member of the committee, said in a Thursday phone interview that the new facility is on pace to be up and running come late fall or early winter.

“We’ve gone out to local businesses, individuals and boosters clubs, and they’ve all been very responsive,” Hasenour said. “Very helpful. It’s nice to know that you’re in a community like this that recognizes the need of schools and is willing to help. Without them, we wouldn’t have been able to do anything.”

Donations have poured in from 15 businesses and individuals, and nine other organizations have pledged money.

The project will relocate the weight room to an entirely new location in the school — the current facility is attached to the junior high gymnasium, and the new one will be close to Buechler Arena and will be visible from outside the school. Covering 4,000 square feet, the new weight room will be approximately 2,300 square feet larger than the current one and will be located in the space vacated by vocational and engineering classes moving into the new CTE building addition.

The idea surfaced two years ago when Hasenour and Ross Fuhs, Forest Park High School’s football coach and physical education teacher, discussed the poor state of the current weight room. They approached the administration about a future project and received their support.

But because of tight funding, gathering the necessary dollars for the project was all on the committee’s shoulders. Members of that group include Hasenour, Fuhs, high school boys golf coach Chris Tretter and high school assistant football coach Jeff Bettag.

Hasenour said the school’s maintenance department has done a good job trying to keep everything working, but some of the machines have been fixed as many as five times. After that many repairs, they just don’t work as well, he said. Some of the treadmills and bikes just can’t be fixed.

“They’re just big paperweights right now,” Hasenour said. Much of the equipment in the current facility was purchased in 1997.

A functional weight room is important for more than just sports teams, committee members said. Physical education classes also use the facility and an after-school, supervised lifting program is open to all Rangers.

“With the facilities we have right now, there’s four treadmills in there, and maybe two of them work,” Fuhs said. “So, when you have a class of 30, 40 kids, and only have a couple treadmills and a few bikes that work, it’s tough to do a whole lot.”

Forest Park freshman Jacob Bettag bench pressed weights while being spotted by freshman Logan Ferguson during the morning football workouts at Forest Park High School in Ferdinand on Wednesday.

Once construction of Forest Park’s new, 19,000-square-foot welding, engineering and agriculture building is completed, work will shift to the new weight room, Hasenour said. He hopes infrastructure work will be completed in the next few months, and by that time the committee will have the money in hand and will be ready to bring in equipment. At Wednesday’s school board meeting, Tretter explained the “must-have” cost of the project is $123,000, and the cost of the audio-visual elements and a maintenance plan for the facility — an estimated $25,000 — could come in at a later date.

The new weight room will feature treadmills, ellipticals, bicycles, lifting cages, and machines for legs, arms and more. Those interested in making a contribution to the fundraising committee are encouraged to reach out to Tretter at ctretter@accessstoragenow.com.

“We’re very pleased with where we’re at,” Hasenour said. “And we’re confident that we can still reach the goal.”




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