Honorary G-A MAAX chairs named as campaign ramps up

PAT FRIDGEN
Garon Gembe and Jeff Shank were named honorary chairs for the G-A MAAX capital campaign. The Greencastle businessmen will lead the effort to raise $2.5 million for stadium improvements at the high school.

“The spokespersons and faces” of G-A MAAX were revealed Sunday night. Garon Gembe and Jeff Shank were selected to take the lead in the fundraising efforts for the high school stadium renovation project.  Greencastle-Antrim Maximizing Arts and Athletics X-cellence steering committee chairman Vern McCauley introduced the local businessmen at a special presentation at John Allison Public House. Area officials, school personnel and residents had been invited to the press conference to get an update on the campaign and the construction project.

Gembe, a 1980 Greencastle-Antrim High School graduate, was a longtime basketball coach in the district. He is president of Graphics Universal and serves on boards for Tower Bank,  G-A Chamber of Commerce and Waynesboro YMCA. Shank, a 1974 G-AHS grad, played football as a student. He is president of Tower Bank in Greencastle, and serves on boards for G-A Educational Foundation, John L. Grove Medical Center, and is a past Old Home Week president.

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve such a worthy cause,” said Gembe. “This project moves the community forward and maximizes excellence.”

Shank was humbled to be one of the two whittled down from an initial list of 40 names. “We both have a passion for the school district. It is a huge draw economically. School is one thing, but extracurricular activities shape you as a person. We want youth to have that chance.”

Campaign updates

McCauley thanked the school board for its “bold and forward thinking” on April 21, when it approved the stadium project. The $2.5 million pricetag will be paid with a bond, but the capital campaign started a week later to raise the funds over five years to repay the school district.

The first promised donation was $10,000 from Sunnyway Foods in May, and a check July 31 from restaurant host John Flannery. He has designated Sundays as G-A MAAX Day, and 10 percent of proceeds are designated to the campaign. He presented a check for $888.75.

Jay Sensenig, FASTSIGNS of Greencastle, is donating proceeds from sales of an aerial photo of the last football game on the old Kaley Field. Samples may be seen at Sunnyway Foods or at 10 E. Walter Ave.

McCauley invited more people to join the committee. He is assisted by Kristy Faulkner, Brenda Blair, Fred Bubeck, Andrea McCauley and Dave Spencer. Three members had to step down due to health issues in their families. Since April the committee met weekly to establish the framework under which to accept donations. It is now a 501(c)(3) organization.

McCauley was grateful for the strong support from the school. Administrators or athletic director Vicki Ritchey had attended every committee meeting. He also appreciated borough and school district representatives who were in attendance at the press conference.

Stadium updates

Project manager Kevin Weller informed the crowd that the renovations were 75 percent complete. The practice field was slated to be done Aug. 5 and Kaley Field was a week behind schedule, so that would hopefully be done by Aug. 19. Worldwide Turf, D.H. Martin and Monocacy Electric were the primary vendors for the project, which included installing two turf fields, upgrading the track and replacing light poles.

The track was in poorer condition than initially believed, Weller said. Wet soil “with an odor” was found, and drain lines were removed. Therefore, the entire track will get a new surface, not just an overlay.

About 5,000 cubic yards of topsoil were removed, since turf should not be laid on the unstable surface, Weller said. The machines excavated to a depth of four feet.

Turf representative Jerry Harper II of Pittsburgh was enthusiastic about the product. His company was just contracted to install the same turf at the Metrodome for the Minnesota Vikings. The carpet had a life expectancy of 10 to 12 years, came with a third party warranty and would get yearly inspections from Worldwide Turf.

The green surface was two and a half inches of fiber, over two and a fourth inches of rubber. That made 3.5 pounds of rubber per square foot, which would reduce injuries. NFL, NCAA and Penn State University studies had shown fewer injuries for players on the artificial surface than on grass. The top would get warm but it did not need to be watered. Harper said no special footwear was required. Athletes could use their same cleats, but no metal. The fiber would not burn and if any repairs were necessary, they wouldn’t be noticeable when done.

Weller added that Chambersburg Area Senior High School had turf for six years already, and never needed to use its spare rubber for repairs. During a sports season, maintenance was simply using a grooming machine twice a month. “The biggest problem in Chambersburg is sunflower seeds. It’s hard to get them out.”

Both said the use of the fields would increase dramatically. While grass fields typically saw 60 events per year, that could go up to 250 realistically.

The first formal game on the new field will be Saturday, Sept. 3, when the Blue Devil boys’ soccer team hosts Jefferson.

Mike Martin, right, owner of Chambersburg Sunnyway Foods, stood in for his brother Dean, owner of the Greencastle store, to present the first sizable donation to G-A MAAX. Capital campaign committee chairman Vernon McCauley accepted the oversized check. Sunnyway’s challenge is still in effect. It will donate another $40,000 if nine businesses or individuals match its $10,000 by the end of August.