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Effort could lead to athletic building

An idea to expand the weight room at Somerset High School has grown into a fund-raising effort to build a new $500,000 athletic building for the school district.

Somerset football coach Bruce Larson got the idea rolling, recognizing that the current weight room space at the high school is not sufficient for the number of students now involved in weight training. Larson is spear-heading the effort and he plans to raise all of the money through donations.

"We can't keep cramming 35 to 40 kids into a 1,200 square foot space," Larson said of the current weight room.

At first adding on to the high school building was investigated, where more space would have been added to the weight room, wrestling room and locker rooms. The price for this addition came in at approximately $150 per square foot.

That price tag caused Larson to wonder if there was a better alternative. Because the district has additional athletic space needs, he began to investigate other options. He got prices for a steel building that would be roughly one-third of the square foot price that was being sought for the school addition.

District Administrator Randy Rosburg said plans are still in the initial stages. They are starting the plans with an 80-by-100 foot building and a 16-foot ceiling. The building would be located at the west end of the football field behind the scoreboard.

The proposed building includes a weight room, locker rooms, a wrestling room, restrooms, laundry, coaches and officials rooms and storage. The wrestling room area would be constructed so it is convertible to fit seasonal needs.

In the spring, a pitching machine or batting cage could be set up for use by the baseball and softball teams.

The plan is to have the space adaptable to special needs students and to have it available for community use on nights and weekends. The larger spaces could also be used for classroom space for physical education classes.

The new building would alleviate some of the space pressures currently being seen at the high school. There is an excessive demand on the locker rooms now. If the weight room and wrestling room are moved out of the high school, those spaces could be used for any number of ways. Rosburg said those two rooms could become classrooms, alternative education room or special needs rooms, as examples.

There isn't a timetable set on the fund-raising effort. Rosburg said any construction would not start until the entire cost of the project is raised. Larson said he thinks people in the area will support this project.

"If you can present something to people that makes sense, that will make things better, I think it's possible," Larson said of the fund-raising effort. "There are people in the community who want to help out in different ways."

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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