By Nicole Matheson
Lake Havasu High School Knights baseball and softball teams can’t wait to start hitting home runs on their new fields. Long over-do improvements have also been made to other Havasu Unified School District schools including Thunderbolt, Starline and Oro Grande. Such improvements were possible by the passing of the bond and override initiative in 2016.
Havasu Unified School District Director of Business Services Michael Murray said, “What we have going on in the district and what people are seeing in the improvements made to our district are the result of the voter-approved bond initiative that gave permission by the voters to go out and secure a secondary tax levy so we could make renovations and improvement to our facilities.
“They’re seeing the improvements made by that bond levy in 2016.”
Thunderbolt Middle School
Thunderbolt Middle School Principal Lindsay Bitterman told RiverScene there is a new security entrance in the front of the school office, as well as clearer signage directing guests to where they are to check in. There is a new asphalt track and football field complete with goal posts, and the PE field and softball field were also updated.
“Students and faculty are very excited to see a facility that is fresh, clean and safe,” Bitterman said. “The track has been condemned for more than a year now, so everyone is ready to use it.”
Murray said the safety and security measures are “the result of much collaboration within the district with public safety officials, law enforcements and fire, to really take an overall look at our facilities and safety and security of the facilities. We’re seeing improvements in all eight facilities to improve safety and security.”
He said all elementary facilities received front office security enhancements as well.
Lake Havasu High School
Similar excitement surrounds the improvements made at the high school, which include a new administration office as well as the new ball fields.
Such care and attention has certainly benefited these improvements, and Chris Lacour, superintendent of Concord General Contracting, including what was done at the high school fields. “We’ve done the artificial turf from natural grass before, a lot less water, a lot less maintenance, and that’s a big improvement. The baseball field got a little bigger, which will accommodate better games. We’ve added a concession stand with full bathrooms. We’ve got bleachers with press boxes on them now, lighting that’s top notch, state of the art.”
There are also plans for a walking track which will be available to the public as suggested by LHUSD School Board President John Masden.
A Field That Matches Talent
The varsity baseball and softball coaches also express excitement about the new fields. “It’s been exciting over the last three years to really see all of the improvement projects at the high school now coming to completion,” said varsity softball coach Kari Thompson. “The kids have been waiting for this for a long time.”
Thompson said she was a player who opened the original softball field in ’89, and that before this year, there had been hardly any improvements to the facility.
“We’re just real excited to open the facility. It’s been really exciting over the last three years to really see all the improvement projects at the high school coming to completion. If you remember what we looked like five years ago – we’ve completely remodeled up at the top of the school and now the last part of the puzzle goes in,” Thompson said.
“One of the perks of this new facility is all the little pieces that improve life as a coach down here. Everyone can see driving by this beautiful facility the beauty, but they miss the little pieces like the locker rooms inside the dugout where my kids can store stuff and change and get ready for the games. We now have a concession stand and bathrooms. We’ve had porto pots so this is a big step up,” she said.
Cullen Stahl, varsity baseball coach, agrees and says, “It’s really nice to now have a field that matches our talent that we’ve had for decades.” Stahl was also a LHHS student who played on the field, so the project is close to these coaches’ hearts.
Improvements Will Continue
Murray told RiverScene how necessary and important these improvements are, saying, “Over the years, our campuses have deteriorated. There has been a lack of funds at the state level and local level to be able to address our campuses.”
With the bond initiative, schools are finally able to make these crucial updates to the facilities.
Improvements will continue at the high school as well as other elementary schools. “We’re absolutely excited to have this field ready for our kids to play on. We obviously couldn’t have it done without the help and support of our community members,” said Dustin Zampogna, athletic director and assistant principal at LHHS.
The name of the field, John M. Wade Memorial Field, will remain the same.
Practice for softball and baseball began March 1, and the first game against North Canyon will be March 19, for both sports.