The start of the high school football season is always a time of great anticipation, but fans of several area schools will have even more to look forward to this year.
Oak Glen and Weir high schools, for instance, will both open new stadiums. Brooke, meanwhile, will unveil a new artificial turf field, Toronto will open its revamped stadium and Steubenville's Harding Stadium will feature an expanded press box and other improvements.
The stadiums in Hancock County represent great improvements for facilities in the Northern Panhandle. The new Jimmy Carey Stadium and the Oak Glen Multi-Sports Complex, known informally as the Bears Den, are located on the respective campuses in Weirton and New Manchester.
Both are state-of -the-art facilities, featuring new amenities for fans and artificial turf playing surfaces. Weir High's first football game at its new facility will be played at 7 p.m. Friday, with a full slate of pregame activities set before the game against Indian Creek. Oak Glen will play its first football game at its facility at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 when the Golden Bears take on Wellsville.
The stadiums were built with money that was included in a $37 million bond levy Hancock County voters passed in November 2010. The district also received $19 million from the West Virginia School Building Authority for construction of a new elementary school in Weirton.
When Brooke takes on Parkersburg at 7 p.m. Friday, the Bruins will be playing on artificial turf at home for the first time, thanks to the work of the Brooke County Schools Athletic Complex Committee, a volunteer group formed by the school board. The committee has entered into a lease-purchase agreement to provide the turf while continuing a fundraising campaign for the $500,000 project.
In Toronto, fans who attend the Sept. 7 game against Shadyside will be watching the game from Toronto's renovated stadium, which will feature a new facade, new seating and a new press box. Those improvements were made possible when voters approved in 2010 a 6.5-mill tax levy that covered a school improvement bond issue and a continuous maintenance levy. The stadium work is part of project that will see a new school built.
And in Steubenville, fans who attend tonight's doubleheader at Harding Stadium will notice the new press box. Funding for that project includes $100,000 from the Pugliese Foundation and $100,000 from the school system's permanent improvement construction fund.
These projects are all examples of what can be accomplished when members of the community come together to show their support for and their pride in their institutions, and all involved deserve to be commended for their efforts.