Drive to replace ailing Portsmouth track and field gets big boost

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PORTSMOUTH — Portsmouth High School's running track is not regulation size, drains poorly and is beyond repair.

And the state of the central athletic field within that truck is every bit as bad.

To set things right, the Friends of the PHS Arts & Athletic Complex has launched an ambitious effort to replace both at the same time. To do that, they figure they need to raise $1.6 million.

A silent fundraising campaign has gained the support of anonymous donors who will match $500,000 in pledges.

And this week, the public fundraising phase of the project got off to a good start with word that the Rick Hole Athletic Foundation will contribute $10,000 to the cause.

The Friends' goal is to break ground in June of 2013 so that work can be complete in time for the start of school that September.

The need to rebuild the 25-year-old facilities had become increasingly evident and has the backing of the School Committee and other school leaders.

Because it is not regulation size, times recorded on that track can't be counted was official so Portsmouth High School can't host any league track meets. What's more, the track can no longer be resurfaced.

The field is plagued by poor drainage and overuse and coaches say that it has outlived its ability to recover after being beaten up early in the season even when it is used for games only. The Friends' plan calls for replacing the "deplorable" real grass (and mud) surface with synthetic turf.

"The new proposed synthetic turf field and track will be a centerpiece for the Portsmouth community, young and old," the Friends say.

Leading the charge with the Friends of the PHS Arts & Athletic Complex are committee members: Dr. Lynn Krizic, superintendent of Portsmouth Schools, Stephen Trezvant, Portsmouth High School’s athletic director; Ed and Julia Coll, Ted Clement, Christine Jenkins, Gary Eggeman and Keith Hamilton.

Donations (tax deductible) of any sizes are needed and will be accepted through the Portsmouth High School Athletic Boosters Club, a 501(C)3 organization. A special account has been set-up exclusively for the Arts and Athletic Complex project.

Checks can be made out to PHS Athletic Boosters with “Arts and Athletic Complex” written in the memo, and mailed to PHS Athletic Boosters, P.O. Box 438, Portsmouth, RI 02871.

PayPal &Credit Cards:

http://www.friendsofphsartsandathleticcomplex.wordpress.com or

http://www.phsboosters.com

For more information and any questions or concerns please email:  phsartsandathleticcomplex@gmail.com or go to our site at

http://www.friendsofphsartsandathleticcomplex.wordpress.com

Rick Hole Foundation

Rick Hole was a standout player in football, baseball and basketball at Newport's Rogers High School.  Later in life he pursued a career coaching and teaching at his alma mater and eventually assumed the role of athletic director at Rogers High School.  He passed away after a long illness on January 8, 2012.

The Rick Hole Athletic Foundation is dedicated to continuing his mission of assisting Aquidneck Island youth athletic organizations.

For more information, visit rickhole.org.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.