After years of discussion and taking bids, Neligh-Oakdale decided now is the time to move forward with a nearly half-million-dollar track.
The current track is in disarray and considered unsafe and unusable, leaving the entire Antelope County without a track. The Neligh-Oakdale Board of Education unanimously voted Monday night to install a new six-lane track for $419,000.
Longtime Neligh-Oakdale track coach Rick Eickholt has been pushing for a new facility for over a decade.
“It’s been a process. I’m extremely excited that the school board decided to take action and do what they’ve done as far as renovating our track,” Eickholt said. “I’m very grateful for all of the work and efforts they have put in and the research to find out what we needed, also very thankful and very grateful to anyone who has donated or played any part in making what they voted on this evening possible.”
Interim Superintendent Bill Kuester said the $419,000 does not include improving the drainage of the track, which he said is part of the reason it deteriorated years ago.
Eickholt and board member Krista Schindler are on the community committee seeking donations for the track. Although the school has now officially agreed to foot the bill for the nearly half-million dollar track, funds are still needed for hurdles and other equipment for the student-athletes.
Schindler said the committee has raised $18,577 to date. With the money raised years ago by former board president Jeff Carpenter, the track account now has $31,800.
After much discussion on whether to building a post-tension concrete or asphalt track, Schindler made the motion to move forward with the concrete track. Chris Ford seconded and the motion carried 5-0.
Eickholt said there are lots of reasons why Neligh-Oakdale needed a new track, besides the obvious safety issues.
“Just from a competitive standpoint, just being able to practice daily on a safe facility to give our kids the same competitive edge that area schools have. I truly think it has hurt our participation level in past years just because of the condition of the facility," he said.
With the new track, Neligh-Oakdale will be able to host meets again, although not conference or district meets since the new track will only be six lanes.
Although the board of education did move forward with a new track for Neligh-Oakdale, they are still accepting donations.