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Volunteers roll out new turf for Ripon High stadium
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Students rake the graded raw base of the schools football field in front of a moving tractor rolling out the new turf. - photo by GLENN KAHL

RIPON — A base of new turf was rolled out Wednesday on Ripon High School’s Stouffer Field in a big step of the stadium’s renovation spearheaded by the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation (RCAF).

The ultimate goal is to provide a regulation length all-weather track, improved football field, a home soccer field and trees to provide shade for athletes participating in competitions in Ripon’s summer heat.

Cheerleaders, as well as football, soccer and baseball players and a few coaches were there to do their part from early in the day doing  the grunt work by hand raking the already graded surface to getting down on their knees and picking up small pebbles that might otherwise work their way up through new the sod.

Stephanie Hobbs – the sparkplug of the restoration effort – said the field will not be able to be used for a month to give the new lawn a chance to grow without the damaging effects of the cleats of practicing football players.  Vince Hobbs added that everyday members of the community walked onto the field offering to help in whatever capacity they were needed.

The call for volunteers for the program went out in September of last year with the removal of sheet rock from the walls of the field house.  The elimination of the sheetrock made it possible to begin the dismantling and the moving of the building onto a new foundation on the other side of the home bleachers.

The relocation of the field house was needed to free up space for emergency vehicles and the potential for a larger snack bar in the future.

The actual groundbreaking came near the end of May for phase one after a five-year grassroots campaign launched throughout the Ripon community.  It followed a “golden shovel ceremony” the morning of April 26.

The beginning of the project had been scheduled to begin the day after the Ripon High commencement with heavy equipment rolling onto the field to demolish the field as well as the track.  Gallo Winery took part by hauling away the old sod as it was removed.

The time line of the project saw workers installing irrigation, drainage, and infrastructure for future phases.  After the sod is fully in place, additional projects will include storm drainage, fencing and sidewalks based on available funding.  Donations are still being accepted to insure on-time completion of the project. 

RCAF is looking forward to the installation of an all-weather track hopefully in September.  They applied for a $150,000 grant to aid in the project from the Integrated Waste Management to support the need for a recycled rubber sub-surface.  The outcome of the grant request has not been released.