Howard J. Sheen Field has a new sheen of its own.

The artificial turf is completed on the football field, improvements to the storm-water management system have been made, additional bleachers have been installed, and new fencing has been added.

Those projects were completed by Sept. 18, when the Beavers hosted their first home football game this season against the Girard Yellowjackets.

Soccer games have also been played on the new turf, three of which were held this past Saturday, as well as recreational football games.

Still to come are a new track surface around the perimeter of the football field and the installation of artificial turf on the softball field.

Amidst the controversy of the athletic complex upgrades are the cost and the payment. The Corry Area School Board, in May, approved the project at a cost of $1.5 million.

A recent change order that added fencing was approved at almost $66,000, bringing the total amount of the upgrades to $1.6 million.

The district has been writing checks each month to Custom Contracting, the general contractor for the project. Installation of the turf was subcontracted to A-Turf.

“We’re halfway there,” said Mike Andrus, business manager for the district, who writes the checks to Custom Contracting. “The last payment we made to them is the fourth payment.”

That check was written for $379,896. The payment brought the amount paid so far to $1,078,457.

The money for the project is being taken out of the district’s capital improvement fund. When Andrus presented several options, including work and costs, to the district’s finance committee in May, how to pay for the project was discussed with committee members.

At that time, Andrus, said the district would pay for the project up front with money from the district’s capital improvement fund, and that money would be replenished.

Andrus said the district is working to secure a contract with a soda company, and the money the district receives will be used to pay back the fund.

Also, money from various fundraisers could help replenish the fund, as well as donations from individuals, including alumni.

Donations could also come from advertisements and donations from businesses the district works with that benefit economically from activities held in the district, such as the PAJW Area VIII Wrestling Tournament and the Winds of Autumn Marching Band Competition.

Those goals to pay for the upgrades to Howard J. Sheen Field are still in place.

Andrus said the district is negotiating with a couple of companies for a soda-pop contract, where the district would receive proceeds for “pouring rights.”

“That takes a fair amount of work,” Andrus said about the contract. “Anything sold on school property would be exclusive to that company.”

Also, funds from advertising would help pay for the upgrades.

The district is also working on an alumni fund drive, one that would be similar to alumni programs in place at colleges or universities.

“We have found, in our search, that may school districts have something similar to what colleges do,” Andrus said. “We’re working on getting that started.”

Corry Alumni Association currently sponsors a scholarship for Corry Area High School.

The idea of marketing the Corry Area School District and its alumni was included in a strategic plan several years ago.

“The plan included marketing a (video) tape of the school district and getting a formal process in place to communicate with school district alumni and putting a publication together,” Andrus said.

The publication would include information on past graduates, where they are now, and what they are doing.

Plans also include revamping the main entrance to the stadium by adding engraved plaques or bricks that could be purchased by individuals or groups. Proceeds from the plaques or bricks would benefit the stadium fund.

“We’re working with the architect to come up with a design for the front entrance,” Andrus said.

The district has set up a separate account for money designated for the upgrades, and any money the district receives for the project at Howard J. Sheen Field goes into that account.

The first official contributions came from individuals and from a raffle that was held during Homecoming.

Andrus said the school’s booster programs are also committed to donating funds over the years.

Although the artificial turf is finished on the football field, the subsurface on the track is installed, and the drainage work is done, there’s still more work on the way.

“They’ll be putting the finishing touches on the final grading of the softball field,” Andrus said. “Basically, that means we’ll be waiting for the artificial turf.”

As far as that and the track surface, workers are now at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“The temperature and the rain or snow are going to affect the job,” Andrus said. “We certainly don’t want to compromise that.”

If crews don’t have a stretch of good weather, work on the track and softball turf may be delayed until spring.

Andrus said other means of funding to pay for the athletic complex will be discussed at an upcoming athletic committee meeting.

Possible funding could come from ticket prices and rates the school district charges for other districts to rent the fields, such as for District 10 football playoff games.

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