RIPON - Ground has been broken and concrete blocks removed at Ripon High’s Stouffer Field by a host of volunteers dedicated to the Ripon Community Athletic Foundation’s drive to significantly upgrade both the football field and the track facility.
Sparkplug behind the effort, Stephanie Hobbs, said that when RCAF workers broke ground last week they expected to find components of previous underground work on the aged facility – but not to the degree that would put a sudden stop to a tractor.
Vince Hobbs was scraping just inches of sod on the track when a sudden jolt almost sent him onto the hood of his tractor, she said.
“The culprit was a huge block of concrete, no doubt used to keep the previous light standards in place. There were three found on the visitors’ side of the stadium,” Hobbs said.
She noted the removal of the blocks were no problem for Myron Costa of Rockin’ R Grading & Excavating of Oakdale and his massive tractor. Costa and his firm have played a major role in the demolition phase of the track and the football field.
“It was his heavy equipment and drivers that scraped off the old sod and his excavator and skills that took care of these concrete blocks and all the other infrastructure being discovered daily,” Hobbs said.
It is a prime goal of the RCAF to give Stouffer Field a completely fresh start and fresh, new look, she pointed out. Steve McPeak and his crew at Knife River Concrete have the underground infrastructure almost completed for the future phases of the redevelopment, she said.
“The excavation for a huge French drain which accommodates two 96-inch diameter and 200-foot-long storm drain pipes has begun. American Lumber sold all the framing materials for the curbing at their cost and RCAF volunteers are working hard to secure more donations for fencing, asphalt and irrigation materials,” Hobbs noted is also the work of Knife River.
The Ripon Soroptimist Club has donated $10,000 in support of the effort and farmer Bob Brocchini added $5,000 to the program.
“Joe Burth, of Burth Electric (burthelectric.com) has been working hard on finishing the electrical in the field house for us. We appreciate his long-term commitment to the project,” Hobbs said.
Six months ago a significant amount of progress was made over the Christmas vacation with the field house being relocated that was said to be quite a feat. The old batting cage concrete behind the visitors’ bleachers was demolished and hauled away by Burkett’s Pool Plastering.
The old field house site was deep cleaned of all loose hardware and debris with the use of a magnet. The edges were graded so the pad would not become a tripping hazard and the edges painted a bright yellow to provide an element of safety.
The RCAF is hoping to sell 1,220 bricks to support the funding of the project that would generate $100,000. The bricks would honor a family member, an athlete’s record or an alumni year, faculty member, classmate or anyone special with the personalized brick.
“It’s an affordable way to participate in the revitalization project while creating a permanent memory,” Hobbs said. The bricks will flank the walkway from the ticket booths to the home side bleachers and will be installed when the project is completed.
Nearly 20 testimonials from students and former students can be found on the RCAF website in support of the upgrading of the athletic facility at Stouffer Field claiming current and past injuries due to the condition of the track and football field.
RHS grad Amanda Quimby wrote:
“It is about time the exceptional athletes at Ripon High get their much needed renovated stadium. The fact that not only Ripon High, but also Ripon Christian use the facilities is hands down reason to get this project done immediately. Ripon athletics are known throughout the valley and it is about time that their facilities are known for being great, too - and not an injury trap.”
For more information on the Ripon Stadium Project call Stephanie Hobbs at (209) 599-6861 or go to www.rcafsite.com. Daily updates, needs and albums of photographs are uploaded to the Ripon Community Athletic Foundations Facebook page.