ROCKSPRINGS — What started as a dream more than 10 years ago has become a source of community and school pride, and would not have been possible without the many, many donors and supporters over the years.
On Monday, one of the major sources of financial support for the Meigs Local Enrichment Foundation was one hand at the school to deliver the final $50,000 of a $500,000 commitment to the project.
A little more than 10 years ago, representatives from the MLEF made a pitch to AEP, asking for funding to support the foundation and its dreams.
Frank Blake, one of the MLEF co-founders, explained that AEP and others hear a lot of pitches for funding, making it difficult at times to meet with those who make the decisions on funding. Blake noted that Gary Ellis was in a position working with one of the executives on the board which helped the MLEF to be able to make their pitch.
Blake noted the special connection of AEP and Meigs, with many Meigs graduates going on to work for AEP.
“We were ourselves and spoke from the heart,” said Blake, noting that they had a vision in place when making the pitch, as well as a plan of how to make it work.
AEP responded, pledging $50,000 a year for a 10 year period, a pledge that was completed with Monday’s check presentation.
The donation from AEP gave the MLEF a lot of credibility and momentum to move forward, said Blake.
AEP’s Jon Buck echoed that statement, noting also that Blake and one of the current Meigs board members are AEP employees.
Buck also noted that AEP was pleased to be part of the project that has helped the quality of the lives of those in Meigs County.
Mike Bartrum recalled the early meetings of the MLEF, thanking those who have been involved over the years from the Harrison family to Farmers Bank, Paul Reed, Shawn Arnott, Cathy Reed, Steve Musser and Mike Chancey.
Blake detailed some of the accomplishments from the new track which now holds several meets, including the 2016 district meet, the new football stadium, softball field and cross country course.
Arnott congratulated the MLEF on the accomplishments, noting that he was proud and honored to have been a part of it. He added that it has helped to put pride back into the community.
Bartrum said he hoped that the project has helped to instill a bit of pride in the school and community over the years.
Board President Larry Tucker stated that the MLEF has planted a seed in the county, including in the students that have come through the school. Tucker noted that his son played football on the new field, and carried the pride on to playing at the college level.
Supt. Scot Gheen, who is in his first year with Megis Local, noted that after being away and coming back it was good to see the the progress. “I hope the kids understand exactly what they have,” said Gheen, adding that the facilities at Meigs Local are at the top of the game.
With the final $50,000 payment, the MLEF is now “very close” to having the loan for the projects paid off.
The MLEF was founded in 2007 to enrich the quality of Meigs Local School District and the surrounding community. The foundation has designed and begun construction of an athletic and recreational complex adjacent to Meigs High School which will include a modern stadium, nature trails, an orchard, playground, restrooms, concession stands and athletic fields.