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Copyright 2014 Lancaster Newspapers, Inc.
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Intelligencer Journal/New Era (Lancaster, Pennsylvania)
Debbie Wygent Correspondent
Three accomplished Octorara alumni/athletes will lend their energy to the district's efforts to raise funds for the high school's ailing outdoor track at a fundraising dinner on campus later this month.

During "A Night of Champions," set for 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25, at the intermediate school, the community will be able to enjoy a spaghetti dinner and meet three local champions who have earned regional and international renown.

n Kyle Kauffman of Sadsbury Township, who has cerebral palsy, graduated last year from Stevenson University, where he managed the men's soccer team. In his senior year, Kauffman's opportunity to play with the team was chronicled on YouTube and by the Baltimore Sun.

n Rick Powell of Parkesburg was a senior member of the U.S. 2013 Olympic kayak team, and took a bronze medal in the under-23 category at the 2012 London Olympics. Powell has been a member of the senior Olympic team since he was 18.

n Cierra Runge of Cochranville is a world-class swimmer who was recently tapped to study and swim at the University of California at Berkeley.

The family-style spaghetti and meatballs dinner to be prepared by Triple Fresh Catering will also feature comments from the hometown heroes. Tickets are $35 for adults and $25 for students.

Corporate tables will be available and there will be a silent auction by Best Authentics.

"Let's bring our track team home!" is the community cheer for the evening, as the district's volunteer Field Development Task Force takes on the cause of raising at least $500,000 for a new outdoor track for Gene Davis Varsity Field.

Jamie Bankert, high school assistant principal and athletic director, said the district has not been able to host home track meets for the past several years because of the track's condition.

"The track is fine to practice on, and members of the community use the track frequently to walk and run," Bankert wrote in an email. "The heaving and slight dips in the track at places are enough that competition times could be affected by the surface."

Bankert said the current surface was laid 20 years ago and is beyond its life span. There is significant wear, particularly in lane one, and mounds have been forming due to heaving.

School board member Nelson Stoltzfus recently told his fellow board members that the mounds may be caused by the slag used as fill beneath the track, and warned that its removal may be as problematic as removing asbestos.

Bankert said the district is conducting soil analysis to see what remediation steps are warranted before a new track can be installed.

"Lower-end estimates are at least $500,000 for a new track, and this number assumes nothing is wrong with the soil content and base," Bankert said. "The number could go significantly higher if we need to do a lot of digging to remove the old base that was put down in the 1950s."

Bankert said that, so far, a few thousand dollars have been raised for the project.

"Again, we are in the beginning of a long road," he said.

Last January, alumnus and San Francisco Giants pitcher Ryan Vogelsong was the guest of honor at the district's first night of champions as he helped the district raise $57,000 for the new stadium and field.

That $500,000 project was funded by $250,000 from the current year's budget and $250,000 in donations from local businesses and sports boosters.

"The task force has some new (and old) faces now that the football/soccer field is complete," Bankert said.

Current committee members include Joan Agen, Scott Grimes, Tom Stickley, Tony Blaha, Mike Mundy, Sue and Todd Creveling, Susan Mahoney, Charlie Koennecker, Deb Mattis, Heather Kirk, John Auberzinsky, Superintendent Tom Newcome and Bankert.

Tickets to the event are available in person or by mail from the high school office, 226 Highland Road, Atglen, PA 19310. For more information, call 1-610-593-8254.

For more Octorara area news, visit:


Rick Powell


January 8, 2014




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