Greencastle-Antrim stadium project gets underway a year after COVID-19 delay

Shawn Hardy
Echo Pilot

The word "community" came up again and again during a ceremonial groundbreaking for the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation's Kaley Field project on Wednesday, April 21.

Earth-moving by Eagle Construction is already underway, and speakers stood where the breezeway entrance of the new building housing a ticket booth, restrooms and concession stand will be located.

The state-of-the-art building is expected to be finished before the fall sports season.

Dr. Lura Hanks, Greencastle-Antrim School District superintendent, was flanked by major sponsors and Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation representatives at the ceremonial groundbreaking for the $600,000 Kaley Field project on April 21. The building housing a ticket booth, concession stand and restrooms is expected to be finished before the fall sports season.

Jeff Shank, a founding member of GAEF and co-chair of the project with current group board President Vernon McCauley, called it a great, but not glamorous project.

"We're building bathrooms ... talk about a need," he said to the group bundled up against windy and unseasonably cold conditions.

A blue portable toilet could be seen in the background. Sports fans, Old Home Week visitors, Relay for Life participants and all others answering the call of nature at the stadium have used port-a-potties since the fall of 2015 due to sewer line problems in the block house. In addition, the current concession stand is a makeshift building.

This sketch shows the new entrance and ticket booth planned for the Greencastle-Antrim School District's Kaley Field. The Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation project is expected to be finished before the first football game this fall.

They will be replaced with state-of-the-art facilities in the nearly 3,000-square-foot structure as part of the $600,000 project.

With bold vision, GAEF took up the project in the summer of 2019, according to McCauley. The nonprofit organization helps supplement athletics, education and the arts beyond the school district budget.

GAEF planned to break ground a year ago then COVID-19 hit.

This sketch shows the new restrooms and concession stand, as well as the new flag court planned for the Greencastle-Antrim School District's Kaley Field. The Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation project is expected to be finished before the fall sports season.

The foundation "stuck with its focus" during the pandemic, Shank said, adding, "We lost a year but we're going forward."

During that time, GAEF received additional funding and has more than $475,000 in cash and pledges on hand.

'Spirit of community'

F&M Trust stepped up immediately as an early lead sponsor, according to McCauley. Others contributing $50,000 or more came on board shortly after McCauley went grocery shopping in December 2020.

Tim Henry, president and CEO of F&M Trust, said when he and his wife, Linda, moved to Pennsylvania they chose Greencastle because of its community spirit.

The Kaley field project is being done because of people who "live the spirit of community," said Henry.

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F&M employees are involved in the community, including Cindy Marconi, who is on the GAEF board, Henry said, adding it is good to give money, but "we want to be remembered because the bank lives the spirit of community."

Dean Martin talked about how the community has supported his family's Sunnyway Foods for 65 years.

McCauley was shopping at Sunnyway in December when Martin, a G-A graduate, asked him about the status of the project. McCauley recalled he said didn't know because GAEF did not want to ask the community for money during a pandemic, then "Dean said, 'I wanna get it built'" and the Martin family became the second major sponsor.

"There's a lot of bad news, we need some good news. Thank you for allowing us to be part of this," Martin said at the ceremony.

Members of the Weaver family picked up shovels for the groundbreaking at Kaley Field on April 21. In addition to the family's sponsorship of the building, a flag court at the stadium will honor Warren 'Puff' Weaver, who founded what is now Antrim Way Honda in 1955.

Martin, who now also is on the GAEF board, reached out to Greg Weaver at Antrim Way Honda.

Also a G-AHS alumnus, Weaver said his family very excited to be a part of the project and contribute to the building.

In addition, Greg Weaver's aunt Pam (Weaver) Knepper had been looking for a way to honor her father and the family patriarch Warren "Puff" Weaver, who founded Antrim Way Motors in 1955. The brick flag court at the stadium will be enhanced, and there will be a plaque placed there in "Puff" Weaver's honor.

Dave Rajtik of Antrim Insurance Agency was the fourth and final major donor to speak at the ceremony.

"The community has given us overwhelming support for over 24 years," Rajtik said. "It's the right thing to do at the right time."

He said he views the donation as a tribute to several great past and current G-A alumni who helped the agency grow to where it is today.

Greencastle-Antrim sixth-graders Andrew Weaver and Bryce Lowery and fifth-grader Jex McDowell were on hand for the ceremony at Kaley Field on April 21. They are all involved in sports and will use the new building for years to come. Andrew is part of the Antrim Way Honda family that is a sponsor of the project and Jex is the son of John McDowell, vice president of the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation Board of Directors.

There are more funding opportunities available, McCauley said, and when the project is finished, GAEF will turn the keys to the building over to the school district.

"This construction is a symbol of our future ... it shows continued pride in Greencastle," said Dr. Lura Hanks, superintendent.

McCauley shared GAEF's mission statement: "We are committed to impacting and enhancing Greencastle-Antrim students’ educational experience."

He concluded the program by saying, "We work hard every day to fulfill our mission."

How to help

For more information about GAEF and the Kaley Field project, email gaefonline.org or visit www.gaefonline.org

Donations may be mailed to Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation, P.O. Box 623, Greencastle, PA 17225.