Stadium committee names 3 donors

Donations total $200,000

target sum still $850,000

High Schools

March 28, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The chairman of the finance committee that hopes to raise $850,000 to pay for lights at 11 county stadiums has announced the names of three major donors who will contribute a total of $200,000.

Bernie Dancel and the Ascend One Corporation will donate $100,000, and Citizen's National Bank and Miller Brothers automotive dealership each have pledged $50,000, said chairman N. Douglas Hostetler.

Representatives of those businesses will be honored at a "Turn On The Lights" celebration May 7 at Howard High, home of the county's only currently lighted stadium.

"There will be a 30-minute program between lacrosse games, and we are hoping to fill the stadium and invite the politicians and other dignitaries as well as a boy and a girl representing each school," said Hostetler, who heads an investment management firm, Hostetler, Church and Associates LLC in Columbia, and is the parent of a student at River Hill.

The finance committee received formal approval for its fund-raising methods from the school board at its March 11 meeting. In October, the board approved the concept of lighting every county stadium, including one for a school not yet constructed.

The committee has set an informal deadline of April 15 for large donors and a deadline of June 15 to raise all the money.

"The fund-raising effort is an `all for one and one for all' proposition that is thought to be a prototype never used before," said Hostetler. "No school can build lights until all the money for all the schools is raised. It is a community-driven, equity-based proposition that has drawn attention from other states and jurisdictions and won the praise of civic and education leaders."

One of those education leaders is Don Disney, coordinator of athletics for Howard County.

"This is the first school district of this size to take on a private fund-raising effort of this magnitude," said Disney.

Disney said that in Howard County, more than 8,000 students participate in sporting events.

Although the school board rejected the idea of naming stadiums for large donors, any business giving at least $10,000 will be represented by at least one permanent sign on the fencing inside the stadium.

The finance committee is divided into three subcommittees, with one each handling large donors, boosters and athletes.

The large donors subcommittee hopes to raise $700,000. The booster clubs subcommittee is shooting for $100,000, and the athletes subcommittee for $50,000.

In order to qualify for the lights, each school has had to formally apply, then hold a public hearing.

The schools provided summaries of those hearings to Disney, who will produce a report for acting school superintendent Sidney Cousins. Cousins will decide which schools qualify.

Hostetler would like to have the lights constructed in time for next fall's sports season.

"The big question around this project was - would it work?" said Hostetler. "It is working."

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