The 12th Man Letters

Players' meeting and a big thank you!

With about 30 Friends including Assistant Superintendent Cathy Green, Principal Dr. Findley and Assistant Principal Lori Shumaker, the "Friends" gave McKinney Field a good cleaning. 

Thanks goes out to the Thornton Volunteer Fire Department and Casey Jones and the Grafton Fire Department for taking their time and cleaning both sets of bleachers. You couldn't have asked for a better day, and what a turn out. Also our "Friends at Domino's pizza" for providing us lunch. Thank-you ! 

We received Johnny Robinson's check for the football scoreboard and the 25-second clocks, and he even paid the shipping. He gave over $70,000 dollars to our project. His gifts will allow us to purchase more state of the art security cameras, pay for a maintenance agreement with Pro-Grass and some other needed equipment. I've been asked when can people begin walking on the track again, soon. The administration of the TCS, is having the fence repaired maybe this week. The parking lot area beside of the facility building is also getting paved. 

The steel for the scoreboards arrived last week. Frank Sturm got the holes drilled, and by the time you read this column the steel will be up and put in place. We all owe Frank Sturm a big thank you along with Jeff Isner. Weather permitting the scoreboards should be up in less than 10 days. They are sharp, state of the art! 

I just want to remind the GHS former greats, we will be having an organizational meeting on July 18, at 7:00 at the Facilities Building. We have some former GHS greats playing in this game; it should be fun for all. If you can't be at the meeting let someone know. This game will pit brother against brother, possibly father against son, and even granddad against grandson. 
The "Friends" will have tee shirts for sale; Grafton Lions Club will be selling concessions.

I do want to take this time to mention additional "Friends." We have been blessed with the outpouring of support that has yet to stop. Nancy Bartlett, Reba Roach Biggins, Tolley Electric, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Beaty, Norm Collier, The Class of 1962, Mary Lechilter , James and Marjory Ballard, Jonette Minton, Susan Mitchell, Larry and Jean Pace, Gary and Jane Pepper and Peggy Knotts. 

I'm still reviewing names. I'm trying to get everyone's name in one of my columns, so if you haven't seen your name, please call. Anyone of us can tell you we didn't expect all the wonderful support we got at the speed we got it. 

Reminder - Players' meeting 7:00 p.m. on this Thursday, July 18, around the Facilities Building.

Clean up is planned this Saturday

Phase No. 1 of our project is now completed. There was an 'official final walk-through ' by the Taylor County School officials last Wednesday, July 3, and it marked the end of the reconstruction of the playing surface of McKinney Field. School officials , along with several "Friends of McKinney Field," featured in the photo running along with today's column, were present for last Wednesday's 'walk through.' 

On July 13, you need to stop down and see the completed turf field . It is impressive! I've been asked by several walkers in the town, when will the school unlock the gates again? From what I've been told, soon. The security cameras are on line 24 hours a day at Grafton High School, but the school wants to get the fence reinstalled, and new dusk-to-dawn lights on all the field's light poles. 

I was told that the gates will be locked in the late evening hours. When will all this happen, again, I was told, soon. 
Phase No.2 of the project should start later this week, we have the scoreboards, and the steel, but we are waiting on the a company to bore the holes for the steel. 

We are very fortunate to have Friends of McKinney Field member Frank Sturm heading up this Phase of the project. Not only has he saved us thousands of dollars, probably close to $25,000, but his construction knowledge of layouts also has been a blessing. Frank is another one of those old Bearcats of the past, who never forgot where he came from. 

If you have followed the progress on Facebook, or on our Web page, we also need to thank Jeff Isner, along with Pat and Jeff Tucker. 
Jeff Isner has lived at McKinney Field... Since the construction began, he supplied you with all the daily updated pictures on Facebook, and it was almost like a daily play-by-play of the construction. Pat and Jeff handled all the updates on our web page. While Lincoln tried to copy us, no one came close to what those guys did on a daily, or a weekly, basis. We couldn't have asked for better 'PR' than what we got from them. 

Now, this Saturday, we do need your help. If you can paint, lift, cut, or clean, we need you. Bring your weed eaters, chain saws and all kinds of yard tools, and help us from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. 

It is my understanding that the Grafton Volunteer Fire Department is coming down in the afternoon to hose down the bleachers. I need someone to help Dennis Shumaker finish cleaning out the track drain. Dennis isn't as young as he once was, his eye sight is failing him, and I want to make sure he cleans out the right drain. Jeff Isner had to take Dennis' shovel away from him, when the turf went down, so he would stop looking for drains.

If you want to come down and talk to a coach, or just walk on the field for the first time, that's what we want you to do. We want all of the "Friends of McKinney Field" to come on out this Saturday. On August 2, the next big event will occur on McKinney Field -- the flag football alumni game! 

What happened to all of the players from 2000 through 2012? Shawn Nines suggested to me that instead of even vs. odd years, we should let all the classes pre-2000 take on the classes from 2000-2012 , but we couldn't have a game like that. 
It seems that the players from those years are afraid to get a little rubber in their shoes. 
Would it help you decide to play, if the sport's editor of this paper was given a wavier, so he could play for you? After all, we want to give you a fair chance. 

We are in the process of trying to get Coach's Youngblood, Blackstone, Davis, Swisher and Skinner back one more time for this night. 
By the way, we will have an organizational meeting on Thursday, July 18, at 7 p.m. at the Clair Bee Field House. Contact Shawn Nines, at 304-695-1031 or 304-265-5761 , or me, at 304-265-3211 or 304-265-5778 . 
I do have a few more 'Friends' to mention, and I will do so in my next column... Hard to believe money is still coming in. 
I hope to see you Saturday! 
(Editor's Note -- Sorry John, but this Sports Editor graduated pre-2000 , by about 20 years, and his school colors were Red, White and Blue..... Fight-On !... Besides that, I did not play football... I was a baseball player.)

Plan on joining us at 8 a.m. on July 13


At 8 a.m. on July 13, we need your help. Please bring your weed eaters and chain saws, as we, the Friends of McKinney Field, are going to clean, paint, cut and chop to do our best to make McKinney Field look better than it ever has. 

It will also be a time for you to come down and take a look, walk, jog, or maybe even run on the field's new surface. Even if you don't have the time to help us, we are calling this a ''friends day' ' so stop on by. 

Some of us will be on hand to answer your questions. Guys like Jeff Inser and Dennis Shoemaker , will be able to answer all of the questions you might have about the field surface and drainage, and Frank Sturm can answer questions regarding the scoreboards and electrical work. 

Hopefully, we will have the coaches from the football and soccer teams on hand to answer your questions about their upcoming seasons, and their feelings about the new field . So, if you just want to come down to check things out, we welcome you to do so. I ran into the athletic director at Lewis County High School last Thursday, and she was totally amazed at the support the "Friends" received. She told me, "what your people did in such a short period of time is unbelievable." 

Weather permitting, Pro Grass should be done this week. Weather is the only thing stopping them, or slowing them down, on the finishing touches of this project, at this time. Sturm has already staked out the places for the new scoreboards to be placed, plan wise, and he was on hand Monday morning when the scoreboards arrived . The holes for the steel will be drilled soon... So, it looks like we will have a first class facility in just a few more weeks! We, the Friends of McKinney Field, would like to offer a special thanks to Builders Service and Supply for unloading the scoreboards for us Monday morning. 

Guys are still signing up to play in the first football game to be held on the new field on August 1. Bryan Gillespie, the only Grafton High School quarterback to lead his team to two undefeated regular seasons, is playing, as well as, his favorite pass target Jay Garrett. 

The last week in July, we are going to have an organizational meeting for the Alumni Game, odd years and even years. This is going to be a lot of fun... Contact Shawn Nines at 304-695-1031 , Drew Toth at 304-241-5241 , or just call me.

'It really hit home, when I saw the 'G-R-A-F-T-O-N' letters in gold on a royal-blue end zone!'


Sometimes when you look out on the new turf at McKinney Field its hard to believe how far we did journey from last year at this time! 
We, the Friends of McKinney Field, knew that we had the doubters and the non-believers, but we also had those that encouraged and stood behind us every step of the way.

It really hit home, when I saw the "G-R-A-F-T-O-N" letters in gold on a royal-blue end zone! 

We live in a very special place, with some very special people. Lincoln is getting a new field, too. But, one guy is putting up the balk of that money. And, in Bridgeport, one guy put his house on the line to make the final payment. When Pro Grass finishes the project, and receives its final payment, we will owe no one anything. Soon, our two new scoreboards will be in, and Jeff Isner informed me that Grafton High School will be the only school in the state to have both a football scoreboard and a soccer scoreboard on the same field. 

I told you at the outset of this project, nearly eight months ago, that some counties and schools say it can't be done... So never try. However, here in Taylor County, the words 'can't ' and 'never' do not exist. 

We are getting closer to that August 3 date, and more players are signing up, although it seems that we are getting more from the 90's , 80's and 70's than from the 2000's . Shawn Nines told me the reason for that was the 'fear factor .' Since there were more winning seasons in the 80's and 90's , the younger kids aren't as tough as the older boys. Hey, he may have a point, since we are getting some players from the 50's and 60's . Just ask Dennis Shoemaker or Old-Leather Helmet George "Scrappy" Board because it just doesn't get any tougher than that. 
Remember July 13 will be our clean up day at McKinney Field... If you have some spare time we could use your help.

Now to recognize the new "friends' ' that I have been delaying for several columns in a row, and listed in no particular order as to date, time or amount, we have -- Larry and Bobbie Sue Clark; the class of 1972; Tim Moats; Steve and Kay Rutherford; Karen Manley; Sherry Stansberry ; Patricia Mayle; Diana Swisher; Kevin Lake; Ken and Linda Brown; the Croll Family; Beverly K. Rollins, in memory of Gail Miller; Elizabeth and Carl Rutherford; Grafton High School Principal Joseph and Rebecca Findley; John and Lona Perry; and Eric and Lori Miller. 

If I have missed your name please let me know. I believe we had over 1,400 names. So, as hard as I have tried to keep them straight, I'm sure in the course of writing this column in the late night hours, I may have missed a name or two. 

The Friends of McKinney Field want to pass along our condolences to Frank Sturm on the passing of his mother. Frank, and his wife Dee, have played a big roll in the success of this project... And our condolences to the family of Danny Foley, one of our big supporters from the outset of this project.

Phase one is complete

Phase one of the turf project on McKinney Field has been completed... All construction and stone work finished up around 8 p.m. on Wednesday, June 11. 

The turf and the sowing crew both arrived on the Grafton High School Campus Wednesday morning, with 25 X 2,000-pound rolls of turf, along with new equipment and machinery to install it with. 

This phase of the project should take about two weeks, weather permitting, and each day you will be able to see the field start to unfold. It's a far cry from the turf fields I played on in college, which were nothing more than a piece of outdoor carpet with a rubber mat that were glued to asphalt. We had to spend an extra $13,500 for a geo-tech fabric to go under the stone. It was recommended that we put that fabric on certain areas of the field that had held water over the years. Knowing that we didn't want to leave any questions about the field being undone, we spent the extra money. 

The scoreboards won't arrive until July, but the steel has already been purchased. Frank Sturm has been pricing all the other materials we will need. Because of his efforts, it looks like we are going to stay under the $10,000 that we estimated the cost of materials and labor to install both scoreboards would be. We still have soccer and football equipment to purchase for the new field , and hopefully we can get those items ordered during the next week. 

The Friends of McKinney Field are going to have a work party sometime in July, to clean up around the field . We will let you know the date. 
The rosters for the alumni flag football game are filling up. You'll be surprised at the number of old grads that have signed up to play. It will be a lot of fun.
I'll tell you a couple of guys that are planning to play, former West Virginia University starting lineman Travis Garrett, and his older brother Jay, as well as, our Old-Leather Helmet George "Scrappy" Board, who is so old that he wants to know if he can play in his wheelchair. There has been talk by some of our alumni that the 1996-1997 undefeated football teams were a fluke ... There's also talk that Tyler Cox still can't throw a touchdown pass... And, Shawn Nines believes he can take Jerry Deem one-on-one ... All just talk of course!

If you want to play, get in touch with head coach Drew Toth (at 304-241-5241 ), coach Nines (at 304-695-1031 or 304-265-5761 ), or me (at 304-265-5773 or 304- 265-5778 ) real soon, before we run out of uniforms. 

I do have more "Friends" to put in this column. I just need to check the spelling of some names, and I'll get that done by next week. We are still getting money in and still making new "Friends." In fact, we got our 32nd state this week, as the Sooner State came through. 

The last report I had, the GHS girls' soccer team had close to 40 girls practicing right now, while the boys' soccer team had 21. Plus, first-year head coach Drew Toth welcomed 52 boys to the June football workouts. 

Those kids, and several more from the various other GHS sports programs, will be busy until July 1. Then, we will have a lull in the action until the August 2 alumni football game takes place on the new turf.

The work on McKinney Field is running several days ahead of schedule

The main drain is in... The field has been leveled... The sheeting is going down, with the flat drains being installed to the main drain... The goal posts have been spotted, and all that's left to be done is the stone covering of the field to complete stage one of the project. 

Depending on the weather, this week the turf should be arriving. Stage one of the project should be history early this week. 

Stage two is putting the turf down, and sowing it together. Bob Thomas, the President of Pro Grass, told me he was going to visit the site when his sowing crew began the installation of the turf. So, in the next couple of weeks the field should start to unfold. 

Our project is bigger than the one at Lincoln High School. We are having more turf installed, and our project is running several days ahead of theirs. They didn't have near the top soil to remove as we did. 

The Robert C. Byrd supporters are still trying to figure out how they are going to raise the money for their project, while Liberty has the money, and no one knows what they are waiting on. 

On August 2, the GHS alumni will get first crack at playing a game on the new McKinney Field. I talked to our new head coach Drew Toth the other day, and he estimates that he has about 120 jerseys. The cost per player is $20, and he is talking about getting everyone a T-shirt. 

So, if you want to play in a flag football game on the new field, contact one of the following: Shawn Nines at 304-695-1031 , or 304-265-5761 ; coach Toth at 304-241-5241 ; or me at 304-265-5773 . or 304-265-5778 . We will need your name, the year you graduated, your T-shirt size, and the position you played. 

Old leather helmet George "Scrappy" Board from the class of 1859, told me he was going to play one play, then turn his position over to a 'young buck.' However, he hasn't asked his wife for her permission to play yet... This game should be a lot of fun. 

Remember this is going to be a flag football game, and it will give our scoreboard crew a chance to iron out any kinks that they might have with the new equipment. It will also give our chain crew its first opportunity to not be 'stuck in the mud.' And, of course, you the fans will get a chance to see the new field up close. 

Remember, if you want to take part of something special, coach Toth told me he has only so many jerseys for the Alumni Game, so you need contact one of us real soon. 

I had planned on putting more "Friends" names in the paper this week, but Ms. Forester ended up out of commission for several days. So, I lost my "checker" so to speak. We will try to catch up on those "Friends" next week. 

(Editor's Note -- Thorough some investigative reporting, the Mountain Statesman learned that George "Scrappy" Board actually graduated from Grafton High School in 1960.)

Pro-Grass 'moves fast' on McKinney Field

I took a couple of weeks off to let Pro-Grass get a jump-start on the field ... They move fast! At one point, I was told that over 200 dump trucks full of top soil from McKinney Field was either delivered to the middle school, or left at the high school for the baseball field. Also, Danny Williams gave his permission for Pro-Grass to dump the clay and rock on his property out on Route 50. 

In talking to the people of Pro-Grass, they believe if they get some good dry weather, they can be done by the first week of July. The new scoreboards have been ordered, along with the 25-second clocks. They should be in by the last week in June. Also, a state of the art camera security system is being installed at McKinney Field. Frank Sturm has installed some new speaker wires for the visitor side of field, the old ones had been cut when they worked on McKinney Field in 2003. Skip Mason has restored some sound to that part of the field, after it had been dead for awhile. 

Dennis Shumaker has just about finished the old McKinney Field sign that was on top of the old scoreboard. It's new home will be on the front of the press box. 

Our recently named new head football coach -- Drew Toth -- is making plans for an alumni flag football game. It will be the first football game to be played on the new field on Friday, August 2. I told him he probably doesn't have enough jerseys. New field, new scoreboard, old players, there should be a nice turnout for this game. 

The first scrimmage will take place on August 17 against Petersburg. And, I'll let you know about soccer, but that date has not been set yet. 

Before I get to the list of new friends... Yes, money is still coming in... I need to say something about one of our "Friends" who is under the weather, Danny Foley. He was a former Bearcat athlete, track star I believe, who you would see at all Bearcat athlete events. He was one of our biggest supporters of a new field in the early stages of this project, when it was still a dream. We all wish him well. 

Our new "Friends" are listed in no particular order, as to date, time and amount: Ashlie Clark; Victor and Allison Iapalucci; Jennifer Shumaker; Nicholas Shumaker in memory of Shelly Shumaker and in memory of William 'Bear" Hussion; Bumpy Ware and Jackie Hunt; Mountaineer Legal Services LLC in memory of Jim Stockett; Logan Beltner; Natalie Beltner; Troy and Erin Bolyard in memory of Kirby Henderson; M. V. Hogan; Toni and Gary Cheuvront ; Kathleen Duffy; GHS Class of 1995; Gary and Jane Peppler; Kenny and Lynn Peters; Larry and Jean Pace; Rondney and Patricia Oney; Michael and Mary Nucilli in memory of C. R. Boggie; Lynn Gough' in honor of Harley and Regina Donham and in memory of Ron Watkins; Russell Isner; Ron and Melissa Able; Charles and Susan Muha; and Steve Gallo, of Steve's Trophies in Rosemont. We still have more "Friends" to recognize. 

There's still time to become one of the Friends of McKinney Field, just send your check to Friends of McKinney Field, P.O. Box 341 Grafton, WV, and make sure that your check is made out to Grafton High School. 

We are now over $439,000 dollars, and we should be close to $480,000 before the end of June. That's not counting any in-kind-donations, or any scholarship money... By the way, we got some money from our 31st state, Washington, the other day.

A 'free turf up-grade' is in store for McKinney Field

We got word from Pro Grass LLC, that a new type of turf has hit the market, one that has a 10-year warranty, and a possible life span of 15-to-20 years. It was developed a few months ago, and is now being made. 

It's called Prime Time OT. It would normally add $40,000-to-$ 50,000 to the cost of our project, except for the fact that Pro Grass LLC is giving it to the Friends of McKinney Field for free... "At no cost!" They wanted us to be one of the first schools in the nation to have it, in large part do to the fact that our project, from start to finish , has been a community effort. 

It all starts this coming Monday, May 13. For the vast majority of us adults, it will be a lifetime change. McKinney Field will never be the same. That's ok though, for over 28 years I have crisscrossed this state to bring you Bearcat Football Games on the radio on Friday nights, and 28 years ago I would have told you "if a cow can't eat it, I wouldn't want to play on it." 

But, that was then and this is now! 

Over the past few years, I have been the most outspoken critic to the playing conditions of McKinney Field. I know that I upset some people at times, and at other times I wasn't very politically correct in letting you know my feelings about the condition of McKinney Field. But, it was never about winning and losing football (or soccer) games, it was always about my concern for student athletes getting hurt on a field that the usage had gotten the best of. 

While I was the point man on this project, so to speak, I will take no credit, and rightfully deserve no credit. The credit belongs to a very dedicated group of very special people: "The Friends of McKinney Field Committee." 

They took the ball, ran with it, and no one was going to stop them. Our Superintendent of Schools Bob Maynard, and our Board of Education, who gave us the seed money to jump start this project. Our Principal at Grafton High School Dr. Joseph Findley, who kept telling us when we didn't have a penny in our account that we can do this in three or four months, was such a positive influence on all of us. 

But, the real credit goes to all of you "Friends" out there. No matter what the size of your gift was, you gave, and you believed. Money came in from 30 states, and the District of Columbia, as you gave, and from all parts of the State of West Virginia, as you gave. And, you gave from all four corners of Taylor County... We thank all of you. 

You encouraged us as a committee on a daily basis. You became the talk of the state of West Virginia in a very positive way. So, without all of you, May 13, 2013 wouldn't be happening at all. 

Instead of putting names in the paper for week number 15, we the Friends of McKinney Field Committee wanted to "thank you" the real "Friends" for believing in us and this project... So, let the construction begin!

A piece of black granite has been purchased

As week 14 passed, the Friends of McKinney Field spent over three hours on Monday just going over names for the different classes of giving, from the Bearcat Club up to the McKinney Club. That process took a lot of time to make sure we miss no names, and that the spelling is correct on each name. 

The Friends, with the help of Taylor County Board of Education Member Judy Barney and her friends, have purchased a four foot by eight foot piece of black granite, weighing 3,400 pounds, to inscribe the names of our club members on. 

The scoreboards will be ordered by the time you read this column. That cost is somewhere in the $60,000 to $70,000 dollar range. So, the whole process is moving along. One of our members -- Dennis Shumaker -- is cleaning and painting the old McKinney Field letters that were at the top of our old scoreboard, and they will find a new home on the front of the press box once the restoration is complete. 

What we have left to do before the 13 of May, is to remove the concrete slabs and break up the discus throwing box located on McKinney Field. Those projects won't get done until after the last middle school track meet. The officials from Pro Grass strongly recommended that the discus not be thrown on the new field, because of the speed in which it could travel on a turf field once it hits the ground. The chance of injury is to great. 

The football coaching staff at GHS is in the early planning stages of the first football game to be played on the new McKinney Field. It will take place on the Friday night before practice starts. A flag football alumni game, "even years vs. odd years" since the alumni strongly supported the field project. They felt it was only fitting that the alumni get to take the field first. 

I'll have more about that later! 

It's hard to believe that May 13 is only weeks away. What was only a dream of the "Friends" will become a reality. Money is still coming in, even though we reached our goal six weeks ago. This past week the "Friends" raised another $5,000, to bring our total to over $432,000 in just 14 weeks. 

Leading us this week was our "Friends" at First Community Bank, so thank you Gary Bolyard and the staff. Then, in no order as to date, time, or amount, here are some more "Friends" -- Nancy Bradley and Charles Roy, along with Wesley and Erick Bradley, in memory of Charles E. Marshall Jr.; Rebecca and Aleksandar Filipovic; Suzanne Lamborn and Roger White; Michael McDaniel and Robin Krafft; Julia and Terry Foley; Ian Duckworth; Patricia and Rodney Oney; the Grafton Lions Club; William and Linda Richman; Ronald and Helen Cole; Wanda Taylor; Donna and David Hussion; John and Patricia Kisner, in memory of Ellis Wolfe; Darrell Mick; Greg Foley and Patricia Henderson; Karen Flohr; John Fawcett; Ada Fawcett; David and Christina Fawcett; James and Janet Duncan ; James Jr. and Tracy Duncan; Ronald and Barbara Dotson; Virginia and Bryon Delawder; Sandra Delaney; Daniel Cox; Kenneth and Suzanne Cross; Paul and Anna Cross; Paul and Sherri Cross; H. Lee Courtney; Marvin and Judy Counselman; Charles Coole; George and Barbara Cook; Ronald and Roberta Colwell; Delano and Linda Coffman ; Wanda Cochran; Herbert and Patricia Clelland; Elmer and Sandra Clark; Nancy Christiner; Ronald and Kitty Childers; Holly Hill; Peter and Jane Henderson; Richard and Ann Hein; Glena Hart; Bill and Sally Harman; and Donald and Kathleen Hagett. 

Next week, I will add more "Friends" to our list. All of the money we receive is being put to good use. The youth of this county will have a first class facility for years to come. We really think you will be proud of what you have contributed to.

More "Friends" are recognized

The impact and the interest in our project, which has been created in this area, is really unbelievable. 

As I understand it, the friends of Stydahar Field, and Robert C. Byrd's WI-R-W Alumni, are now looking at putting turf on their respective fields . It was you, the Friends of McKinney Field, who started the ball rolling . "If they can do it in Taylor County then we can do it too," that's what they are saying. 

This is our 13th week of fund raising, and the "Friends" have netted the account over $427,800... That's over a $10,800 dollar gain from last week. Leading that charge was our "Friends" from CSX Railroad. It gives you a real sense of community pride, when you stop and realize how businesses, organizations and governmental bodies have come forward to help in their own way for this project. 

This past week also saw the scoreboard and flag pole come down, through the help of Don and Kent Harman by allowing us to borrow their boom truck, and their operator Hershel Reger, for about four hours. 

On Sunday afternoon, the "Friends" were hard at work, busting up the concrete slabs at McKinney Field. There is a group of men, led by Dennis Shumaker, Frank Sturm and Sam Jones, who have saved this project thousands of dollars before Pro Grass comes to town. We -- the "Friends" -- are now working on the list of donors, as the committee has personally raised the money to buy the stone, so that all the different club levels from Bearcat to McKinney can be recognized. We are currently working in the process of checking each name and spelling. 

Because of that process, I have learned that some names weren't passed on to me. So, if your name has been in the paper before, you will get a double shot. I have had a hard time staying up with our record keepers. 

This isn't going to be the last time for names in the paper anyway . So, in no order as to date, time and amount, our "Friends" for week 13 are: Randall and Virginia McKinney; Terry and Beverly McDonald; Reba Mc-Daniel ; Tammy and Mitch Mayle; Ronald and Linda McBee; Craig and Wendy Mathes; Gary and Helen Little; Deborah Lodge; K. W. and B. S. Lough; David and Deloris Lough; Tom, Andrea and Jesse Lefevers; Dr. David Laughlin ; Dr. Keith Wade; Charles and Margaret Lantz; David Lambert; Alan and Sharon Kskra; John and Patricia Kisner; Robert and Della Lambert; Mike and Judith Lambert; Linda Lambert; George and Marjorie McCauley; Paul and Suzanne McVicker; Philip and Judy Menear; James and Susan Kepple; Duane Keener; Jeffery and Leisa Jones; Richard and Barbara Johnson; Barbara Johnson; Thomas and Margarey Johns; Russell Isner; Carl and Donna Isner; Donna and Darrell Inskeep; Stephen and Ruth White; James and Barbara Waters; Thomas and Susie Ware; Richard and Clara Ward; Anthony and Candace Warash; Shirley Turner; Wanda Taylor; Gary Tansill; Stuart McMunn Company; Strand Pool Room; Daniel and Shirley Stout; Carl and Cynthia Steenstra; Jeff and Laura Stavrakis; Raymone and Carol Snell; Dannie and Donna Smith; Steven and Sharon Smith; Betty and Robert Shuman; Michael and Margaret Shay; Christine Shaw; Patricia Shaw; Larry and Linda Shaw; Brook Russell; Harold Rutherford; Shirley Rosier; Charles and Delores Rogers; Clara Robison; Ricky Rayand Rebecca Robinson; Mary Roberts; Eugene and Jo Ellen Ritter; James and Becky Ringler; Glenn and Karen Ringler; David and Karen Riggleman; William and Linda Richman; Larry Reed; Jim and Sandy Cheshire; Wallace and Anne Carr; Ernest Boyer; H. C. Boyer; Richard and Wilma Bowman; James and Carol Bolyard ; Emily Bollinger; Murrell and Kay Bolliger; LT. C. John and Donna Boccadori; William and Cheryl Whitescarver; Harry and Frances Whitman; Martha Mapstead; Richard and Debra Williams; Robert and Susan Willis; Senator Bob Williams; Charles and Mary Withers; Loretta and Lisa Withers; Wesley and Virginia Wolfe; Charles and Carmella Wolfe; Jack and Christina Wolverton; Myrtle Wyckoff; Kathy Greza; and wrapping up this week are Rev. Orville and Ruth Wright. 

Had we -- and more importantly I -- known the response to this project was going to take off like a 'Stealth Bomber,' then my organization would have been better. There are more "Friends" coming next week, and they too will be posted. 

You still have time to become a Friend... It's easy to look and say that we have far exceeded our goal, yet every cent we have received is going back into the field, or field equipment. One way, or the other, we the "Friends" are committed to that!

A total of $45,000 were added in week 12 

Week 12 was another super week for the Friends of McKinney Field, as over $45,000 raised, for a grand total of over $417,000 dollars. Everywhere I've gone outside of Taylor County, people are just amazed how the people in this county, the alumni of GHS, and just our "Friends" in general, have reacted to our call for help. 

 At the West Virginia University Football Coaching Clinic that the Grafton High School Staff was at this weekend, there were a lot of envious coaches in the area. They should be... There always has been a large section of this county that have put our youth first. A big 'thank-you ' goes out to Arch Coal for their donation. They have invested a lot of money in this county with their mine, and all the jobs they are providing. We are glad to call them one of our "Friends." We also received a large donation from an anonymous individual. who all we can say is 'thank-you ' to. 

 I have to give Crystal Forester a lot of credit. She has kept our records straight, and our list of contributors up to date. That has been a task in itself. Crystal has informed me that my math was off, we have over 1,200, "Friends" , and that list if still growing. Not bad for and old "Greyhound" that grew some claws and fur too... Thank-you Crystal! If you have been by McKinney Field, you will have noticed that the goal posts are down, and the 25 second clocks have been removed. A lot of thanks goes out to Sam Jones for running the backhoe and the city of Grafton, who let us use it. As you can tell by the size of the two concrete slabs he dug out where the goal post were, it was no easy task. Thank-you Kevin Stead and the City of Grafton, for use of your equipment. Also, a thank-you goes out to Dennis Shumaker, who has removed almost all the sprinkler heads on the field, 44 out of 50. Six he can't find. And, thank-you Frank Sturm for shutting off the electric to everything on the field. 

 Don and Kent Harman of Builders Supply Company are donating the use of their boom truck on Tuesday at 1 p.m., to remove the scoreboard and flag pole. So, all we have left is to jack hammer the concrete slabs. 

 In less than a month, Pro-Grass will begin construction of our new turf field. The scoreboard company met with the GHS administration , Frank Strum, Gary Rucker and Jeff Robinson on Friday... All I can say is "Wow! " 

You will be impressed. 

While we had many new "Friends" added to our roll this week, Crystal is compiling a complete list. So, if their were any I missed over the past several weeks, and all of our recent "Friends" will be added to my next Column. 

If you haven't become one of our "Friends" yet, you still have time to add your name to our list.

Friends top the 650 mark

Well, week 11 has come and gone, and every week we see our "Friends" list grow. We are now over 650 donations to our cause, words by themselves can't convey what and how our committee feels towards you... All of you! 

You have made this project such a success. This week we went over $372,000 dollars, a gain of over $14,000 from the previous week. 

We owe a big 'thank-you ' to Rich Rager at RRHAMCO. 

When we met this week, we the "Friends" talked about what we, and the Taylor County Board of Education, could do to honor you, "The real Friends of McKinney Field." 

Hopefully, you'll be surprised and pleased. But, before we get there, we still have a lot of work to do. What you have done for the youth of this county is truly unbelievable. I have had representatives from five other counties contact me, and they asked: "how did you do it?" I've told each one who asked that we did it out of need, loyalty, and pride. We the "Friends" truly believe that is a fact. 

Our Superintendent of Schools, Bob Maynard, gave us permission to start taking down the goal posts, the 25-second clocks, the old scoreboard, and to remove the sprinkler heads from McKinney Field. 

So, we have a work detail scheduled for 9 a.m. on Saturday, April 13, and you're all invited to join us. However, I will tell you, Dennis Shoemaker and Dr. Findley have one goal post down already. So, if you want to get a picture for old-times sake, you better hurry. 

I was informed by former athletic director Austin Upton, those goal posts were installed in 1996. If you want a piece of one, I suggest you contact Dr. Findley. We also talked to Dr. Findley about setting up an area where people could come out and watch the construction of the field. He's going to discuss that with our Board of Education. 

I was asked, how much money do you think the "Friends" will end up raising? 

While I can tell you money is still coming in on a daily basis, our money specialist Jeff Isner has projected that when all is said and done, you can count the field , scoreboard and the scholarships to be over a half a million dollars. Our doomsayers -- the Geese -- have just about given up the ghost, and I think they flew to Philip Barbour's George Byers Field. Now, for our new friends listed in no particular order as to date, time and amount. They are: James and Wilma Garner; Josh and Amy Dunham; Janet Blue; Charlie Johns; Terry and Mary Gabbert; Fred and Loretta Queen; Elsey Construction; GHS Class of 1980; Jay and Zen Potter; Curtis and Scoot Shaffer ; Cathy and Dean Leach; The Gourmet Express; Pauline Brown; Wickwire CEOs; Dr. Howard Stansberry; the Grafton Lions Club; Forrest and Emily Roles; Nancy and David White; Sharon McCauley; Richard and Sandra Boice; Autry and Mary Pourclau; Elizabeth and Carl Rytherford; Kathyrn, Joe and Rebecca Findley; Jerry and Linda Boling; David and Julie Poling; Chuck and Vera Duckworth in memory of Homer Knotts; Bill and Neil Courtney; Charlotte Watkins; Nancy Ellen Judy; GHS Class of 1961; Complete Eye Care; and Taylor County Youth Soccer Association; along with Geoffrey Kelly, Brandon, Matthew and Lucas Marshall. 

Until next week, join us and become a Friend of McKinney Field.

Let's look at a history of McKinney Field!

Before I reflect back on week 10, here is a word about our concert , and the musical ability we have in this town... Shadrack can flat out "rock!" Great job, Skip Mason, and the boys. While I have never been a concert type person, unlike my friend Shawn Nines, who has appeared on some MTV videos... Ask him about it!.. .He's the real "rocker." The last concert my wife took me to featured Brian Wilson, who sang old Beach Boys' songs. 

Listening to Taylor Made gave me a sense of pride that we in Grafton have three musicians ,who are very talented, and who would take the time to come home and perform the way they did. They are a special group. They will be touring with the legendary group 'Alabama' this summer. If they can fit it into their schedule, they will come back home on August 30, the night of the first football game on the new turf of McKinney Field and sing the National Anthem. It doesn't get any better than that. No matter how high those stars take them, they remain Bearcats! 

As we conclude the 10th week of fund raising, I thought it would be interesting to go back in tine and take a look at the history of McKinney Field... And the man named Rand McKinney. In 1925, the groundwork began on a new football field. The high school had played its home games on what was called the old fair grounds. That's where Rosewood and the Army Reserve Building is now located. The first game was played on the new field in 1926, against Bridgeport. You can guess who won it. In 1929, Grafton had started out 5-0 , crushing everyone they played, the only problem was they were using guys that played in the early 20's . So, the local Board of Education fired the superintendent, the principal, and the coach. When the eighth-year seniors, or juniors, or sophomores, or I suppose even freshman could no longer play, Grafton got crushed. The second half of the season wasn't pretty. 

Enter Rand McKinney in 1930. Coach McKinney's first game in 1930, was a 13-0 win over Simpson High School, whose mascot is unknown to this day. Lights were installed in 1930, and it was one of the first fields to have lights in the state. The first night game was played on October 16, 1930, with Alderson-Broaddus College facing Salem College. Then, the first high school night game was October 17, as GHS faced Farmington. In November 1962, the field was dedicated to coach Rand McKinney, before that it was called Grafton High School Field, Riverside Drive Field, or just the high school field. In 1964, during his final game as coach, "The McKinney Men" as they were call, sent their coach out as a winner, with Grafton defeating Roosevelt-Wilson, 13-0 . That was after 162 wins, and two state championships. 

Now for week 10, the old fundraising train is moving on, we are now up over $358,000, and that is a gain of over $11,000 from last week. The most surprising thing is that people are still calling, e-mailing, and sending checks. We are now over 630 "Friends" with the list growing by the day. 

Now, for our week 10 list of new "Friends" that is featured in no particular order as to date, time, or the amount: Sheriff Terring and Tony Skinner; Louie and Sharon Spadafore; Ragers Auto Repair; Withers Alignment; John and Lee Taylor; David and Marsha Maier; Frey's Auto Supply; Domino's Pizza; Jane and Charles Findley; Brian and Lisa McDonald ; Shawn, Robin, Jordan, Beryl and Constance Riley; Richard Zukowski; Thomas and Deneane Reneau; Jerry and Carolyn Ball; Robert and Delores Losh; Grafton Knights of Columbus; David and Peggy Barney; D&L Limousine; Dean and Kimberly Parsons; Michele and Stan Leach; Jack Kincaid; Tom, Andrea, Jessie Stolzenfels; June and Austin Upton, Heather Todd England and Jaimee Upton; Edward and Penny Arnold; and Ben and Dan Bord, In Memory of Sam Bord... Next week we will have even more "Friends." 

May 13 is drawing near, when the real construction begins, and the dream of what could be, starts to turn into reality. While I -- and the "Friends" -- have always believed we would make it, none of us ever imagined that it would happen so quickly. It's a testament to you, whether five minutes from McKinney Field, or five days away. We all have been told that our Bearcat isn't real. They just don't see our mascot the way we do, but they can never deny it's spirit is alive and well in all of us "Friends." 

We the "Friends" will have a work detail in April to take down the goal posts, the 25-second clocks, and the Scoreboard. If you would like to help us, we will have a date in the newspaper, on our web page, and on our Facebook page real soon.

We have now raised $347,000 in nine weeks 

This community, the county, the Board of Education, coaches from youth sports through high school, and the middle school and high school bands all owe a great deal of thanks to Frank and De Ann Sturm, Dee Dee Leach, Jeff and Lorraine Isner, Crystal Forester, Lonnie and Barb Lough, Dennis Shumaker, Tom Stolzenfels, Rob Barr, Chuck Duckworth, Dan Mankins, Pat Tucker, Sam Jones, Tyler Cox, Austin Upton, Jeff Tucker, and Dr. Joseph Findley. 

Without the sacrifice of these individuals over the past year, and their faith that no goal was to high, this project would not have made it to first base. There are others, who I will mention at a later time, but this core group is the most dedicated group of individuals I have ever worked with. The reason I can say that is, after only nine weeks of fund raising, we are at $347,000. In fact, this week alone, you "The Friends" raised over $66,234 dollars. It seems like only yesterday, people were wondering how would we raise $300,000. 

However, The Friends of McKinney Field Committee are not finished yet, they want this to be a first class facility. We want to purchase a new soccer scoreboard to go along with our new football scoreboard, along with two wireless mobile 25 second clocks, so that there are no electric wires strung under the rug, and new soccer goals that can be wheeled on and off the field , plus new field equipment such as pads for the goal post, chains for the chain crew, end zone markers, and a list of other related equipment. 

If we have any money left over, we want to pay the yearly maintenance fee offered by Pro Grass so we can lengthen the warranty, and keep the field in top shape. 

So, no we are not finished yet, we will continue to seek out new "Friends" . But, unlike other schools, when our youngsters step out on that field on August 1, 2013, it will be paid for. 

This Wednesday evening, two of our local groups, Shadrack and Taylor Made, will put on a benefit concert for us. We need your continued support. We will be raffling off a Big Screen TV donated by Walmart, along with some other nice door prizes that were donated by Keith and Debbie Coffman. Come out and join us. The doors open at 6 p.m., and the concert starts at 7 p.m.. Tickets will be available at the door. 

Now, let's take a look at some of our new "Friends." In no particular order as to date, time, or amount they are: Green Bay Packers Assistant Coach Alex Van Pelt and family; Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens Strength Coach Robert, and Mary Rogucki; Patrick and Violet Shaw; Suzanne Pierson; Meadow Green Stables; Teresa Olivo; Dr. Chris Villaraza; Dr, David Bender; Grafton Medical Associates Inc.; Chessie Federal Credit Union; John and Rosemary Stephenson; Rod and Amy Summers ; J. B. and Carolyn Sessions; Gary and Carolyn Miller; Richard and Kimberly Lough; Bill and Patty Wolfe; Joan McKinney Ott; Tom and Judy Gillespie; Bryan and Kim Gillespie; Karen and Ronald Nicodemus; Bruce and Krista Perks; Annette and Roger Ireland; Biggie's Drive Inn; Dottie and George Shelton; William Waters; Larry and Christine Rosier; Brent and Jennifer Moran ; Roger Wolfe; Dr. Raymond and Catherine Morehead; John and Marlene Hulley; Bryan and Mary Recla; Milton and Pattie Moore; Bob and Mary Gorey; In memory of Gary Cochran; Emily and Madison Moon; Dennis and Terry Shumaker; Paul and Eva Woodyard; Constance Mc-Cartney ; James Moran; Lloyd and Anna Jane Shriver Family ; Danny and Jonetta Moore; James and Norma Robinson; Charles R Isner; Richard and Christine Smith; Dr. Charles and Elizabeth Haislip; Carl and Lisa M. Clark; Gary and Dottie DeBarr; C. Diane Warder; Robert Bartlett; Charles Marshall; Dr. Cassandra and William White; Theodore and Dennine Larue; Judy Myers; David and Patricia Marshall; Rhonda Pahel; The Rotary Foundation; Bob And Marsha Malone; James Spring; Jack and Barbara Wolverton; Hughes Living Trust; Hazel Henderson; H. M. Bennett; and N. Haushalter... And, still more "Friends" on the way next week. 

We now have a total of 596 "Friends" and we are not that far away from our goal of 650... Would you like to join us? 

Please don't forget about the concert on Wednesday... We have a world famous M. C. to introduce the Groups... He has been on TV before... He is a great guy, and a big Bearcat fan!

"Friends" get a couple of big surprises 

Week number eight has come and gone and the "Friends" have now raised $281,101. That's an increase of over $43,000 from last week. We now have 536 "Friends" from 27 states, and Washington D.C. 

The "Friends" received "Big" surprise, a couple of weeks ago when former Bearcat quarterback Johnny Robinson (class 62) of Austin Texas, advised us he wanted to purchased a new scoreboard for McKinney Field, in the $35,000- $40,000 range. 

In doing so, he wanted to honor his late parents. His mom was an English teacher at GHS, and his dad worked for the B&O railroad. But, on Monday, John calls me and tells me that he and his wife are going to send us an additional check for $25,000 for the field. While I was struggling to say something more than just thankyou , I thought to myself, after 51 years, that old Bearcat Spirit is alive and well in Austin, Texas. The old quarterback, who threw touchdown passes to the delight of thousands of Bearcat fans in the early 60's, is giving back to his old school for a new generation of Bearcats. 

Then, on Tuesday, the Friends received yet another "Big Surprise" when we opened an envelope from Sue Bartlett Morris (class 61), inside it was a check for $25,000. Sue has never forgotten where she came from. The daughter of a coal miner, raised in Webster with her sisters, graduated from GHS and worked her way through college to become a teacher. She Married Ike Morris, who worked in the oil and gas fields, and together they have become two of the state's biggest benefactors for education. Sue is a very, very, special lady, who is known and respected in every corner of this state, and she's never forgot she's a Bearcat! 

We, the "Friends," wish we could say something more just thank-you to all of you who have given. We have been told that you all have become the talk of the state, to do what you have done for our youth in such a short period of time. Like I said in my first column, we are different from those around us. We seemingly put all our differences aside, when it comes to the youth of this county. While there are really good feelings floating around among the "Friends," we are not there yet. We are still climbing that mountain, that some thought six months ago was impossible to climb. We have been told that the old Bearcat would like to see 600, or more, "Friends" added to his list. So, if you haven't given, please consider it. We very much need your help. 

We have been told that 'Taylor Made' is excited about doing a show for us. Tickets still remain, this is a break-out group, and from the looks of things, they are headed for county stardom. We need to support them as much as they are supporting us. 

Now for week eight's list of new "Friends." By the way, if you have given and have not seen your name yet, you will. I finally have an order to my 36 sheets of names. 

I type these columns on my IPad, as fast as I can, and for as long as my one finger can hold up. I was not one of Mrs. Decker's star typing students. Anyway, in no order as to date, time, and amount, here you go: Norma Jaco; George and Lois Board; Gary and Susan Foster; Tygart Lake Boston Beanery; Kenneth and Vickie Cole; Goddard and Wagoner Attorney's at Law; Rex Hide Corp; Constance Elsey; B. D. Delaney; Douglas Benedum; J. Gregory Moore DDS; Weaver Brothers; Theresa and David Barlow; Joyce Ann and Thomas Kirpatrick; Cathy Bolyen; Marianne Kite; Ronald and Julie Neal; James Skaggs; Sam and Pauline Harman; Charles and Camella Wolf; Robert and Sherry Mollohan ; Charles Robinson; James and Carolyn Austin; Eldene and Charlotte Carter; Jason Cost; Peter Taavaras; Doug, Monica and Corey Robinson; Scott and Shelly Elsey; Susan and Carl Snyder Jr.; Connie and George Mayle;, Joseph Heinzman; Daris and Cynthia Rosencrance; Jody and Cheryl Lambert; GHS Class of 1977; Sam and Joe Heinzman; Zack Jones; Chuck and Karen Keener; Ronald Moats; Ray and Linda Jo Vallorani; George and Sarah Sandy; Anna Lough; John Harrison; David and Anna M Wasrud; Mary Hinkins; Mr. and Mrs. Larry Cooper; Barbara and Thomas Miller; John and Deborah Coplin; and The GHS Chain Gang... Ronnie Lambert, John Coplin, Brian McDonald and Rusty Efaw. 

Next week, I'll have even more "Friends" and hopefully we can get to the top of this mountain soon... Remember the concert on March 27, because we need to support 'Taylor Made' for doing so much to help bring us closer to our goal.

“Friends" continue forward on a quest for the new turf field 

Week number seven has come and gone, and the "Friends" continue forward on a quest for the new turf field that would make Coach Rand McKinney proud. 

Our balance as of Thursday, March 7, at the Taylor County Board of Education office stands at $238,096.40. The past week alone the "Friends" received over $26,757 in gifts. Those gifts have come from 25 different states, and Washington D.C. 

We have 132 members in our square-foot and squareyard clubs, 207 members in the Bearcat Club, 27 members in the Coaches Club, 31 members in the Athletic Director Club, 30 members in the Spadafore Club, 15 members in the Skinner Club and six members in the McKinney Club. 

That gives us a grand total of 457 "Friends of McKinney Field" ... That is Unbelievable! 

I was asked “how do we keep track of all the money we receive?”, well, 99% of what we have received is in the form of checks, all checks are copied and kept with our finance secretary Crystal Forester. Plus, our vice chairmen Jeff Isner, keeps a running log of all money received, and who gave it. Jeff makes his daily trip to the Board Office, where all money is deposited. Between the Board's Finance Department, Jeff, and Chris they compare notes, and make sure all monies are balanced, along with who gave it. The day we had the road block, all cash was collected at the city building, and it was counted by four members of our group. 

All checks have to be made to GHS, to be deposited at the Board Office , and since the "Friends" don't have an account, and we have had to send checks back made to FMF. 

While there is a lot of duplication of work, we found this was the best way to account for all the money we have taken in. 

At anytime we can get a running total of exactly what we have in the account and who gave it. We owe Chris, Jeff, and Board's Finance Department a big 'thankyou ‘. They have put countless hours into making sure every cent was accounted for. 

Before I get to our new "Friends" list, I want you to know that we received a big surprise from our "Friends" at CSX this week. 

It was a $10,000 donation. A 'thank-you ' goes out to two brothers, Randy Workman in Grafton, and Rodney Workman in Jacksonville Fla., who made that happen. Without those two former Bearcats, it would not have been possible. 

Randy, even though your son played for Bridgeport, I always knew you bled Gold & Blue. 

Thank-you CSX. We have your check to look forward to! 

And now our new "Friends" in no order as to date, time, or amount are: Grafton Shop and Save; Bill and Mary McProuty; Steve and Anne Gerkins; Craig and Wendy Hutson; Charles Morgan ; Leslie and Frances Kines; Janice Jones and Russell Vernon; Coach Wes and Beverly Norris; Joan Wiant; Larry and Patricia Lemmon; Dianna Cesa; Paul and Anderson; Glade Run Petroleum; Bright Start Academy; C. Thomas and Catherine Little; Ramela Odell; Stephen and coach Bonnie Woods; City of Grafton; Rebecca Huff; Alan and Karen Jeffords; Hanks Deli; coach Rocky and Kathryn Loughry; James and Taylor County Middle School Principal Pamela Gallaher; James and Nancy Adlington; Charles and Jane Warder; Grafton City Hospital; Algard and Betty Shaffer ; Mike and Jennifer McCauley; Thomas and Janice Stemple; Blaine and Libby Auville; Karen Nicole and Nicole Boyles; Jeff Haskins; Bud Jennings and Barbara Cooper. 

Also, Bill and Judy Passwaters ; Bradley J. Mayle Funeral Home; Shelly Haralson; BBT Bank; Hometown Hot Dog; Carolyn and Ernest Gough; James Fisher; Richard Keefover ; Farrell and Cheryl Snyder; Frances and Darl Laulis; Wayne and Sandra Phillips; Stephen and Kitte Deakins; Shirley Newlon; Bernard and Joyce Horovitz; Alan and Sharon Iskra; Donald G. Ford Funeral Home; Charles and Judy Duckworth; Alston and Joann Tucker; David and Yong Cha Aronld; Sherri and Roger Fleming; R&R Services; Mr. and Mrs. G. T. Bartlett; John Mick; Melvin and Ladonna Wiseman; Phillip and Kimberly Brown; and James Mano Jr.. 

In addition to, Chuck Duckworth ; Rick and Millie Phelps; Bill and Pat Shinkle; Maidella and Tom Humphrey; Chris and Tracy Lantz; John and Sarah Gray; Jim and Georgia Smallwood; V. Jean Williams; Daniel and Carol Jean Grogg; Pamela (Bunner) Hallman ; Rodney and Beverly Workman ; Joe and Marlene Jones; former Grafton High School Head Football Coach Mike and Sally Jane Skinner; Garry and Karen Richman; Carolyn and S. E. Shepler; Pat and Jerry White; James and Sarah Aronld; Ed and Helen Grinnian; Robert and Virginia Knotts; Don and Edith Gull; Timmy Shaffer; Benjamin and Nancy Cox; Gerald and Sondra Kochka; Beverly Lucas; Paul Curry; Kent and Catherine Harman; Ed and Lisa Moore; Kenneth and Kimberly Mayle; and Kellie and Rob Barr. 

Next week we will have more "Friends." 

We are getting close. That old Bearcat is rounding the bend and heading for home, looking for new "Friends" along the way. Just so you don't forget, make your checks out to Grafton High School, send it to Friends of McKinney Field, PO Box 341 Grafton, WV 26354. 

And, don't forget the concert with "Taylor Made" on March 27 in the Grafton High School Auditorium. You can contact Jeff Isner for ticket information at 304-476-5985.

The Rug is Ours!

In only six weeks, the "Friends" have reached the $200,000 bench mark that was set by the Board of Education to buy the turf from Pro Grass. Our total stands at $211,339.40. 

You can call it what you want. But, to me, it's flat out unbelievable ... The rug is ours! 

Our goal for the month of March is $100,000. We have set that goal, believing that the word is starting to get out even more than it has during the last six weeks. 

We raised over $37,000 this week alone. We are getting more phone calls, and e-mails , than we have in the previous weeks. Our "Friends" list has jumped to over 400 contributors. 

A week ago, I was approached by an individual who said he would match the "Friends" gifts and contributions up to $30,000. He issued a challenge to the FMF for the 31 days of March. 

Still think it's impossible? 

We don't ! Taylor Made, our own country super group, who is making a name for themselves on the Nashville stage, has agreed to do a benefit concert for us on March 27. They will follow another Grafton group, Skip Mason's Band, which will perform first. Tickets are selling for $20 a person. 

We have had over 2,000 hits on our face book page about tickets for the concert. So, we know the tickets are going to sell quickly. If you are interested, please contact Frank Sturm at 304-669-0529 , or Jeff Isner at 304-476-5985 , or Dee Dee Mooney at 304-290-6019 . I need to comment about a rumor, and at least put it to bed. Back in March of 2012 the FMF was born. A group of dedicated individuals stepped forward to take this project on. 

The first idea we came up with was maybe someone, or some business, would step forward to fund the whole project. 

We talked to, or contacted, every individual business and corporation , who we thought might have an interest, some twice, and a few three times. We chased rumors from one end of this country to the other. 

No individual, no business, or no corporation, ever even hinted that they were even remotely interested in taking this project on, at anytime. No one ever suggested to our Board of Education that they were interested in funding all, half, or even a part, of this project. In fact, we found out that the majority of the large corporations have a limit on their contributions to secondary schools, and their money can't be used for athletic facilities. 

So, the rumor that any individual , business, or corporation, was willing to invest a large sum of money in this project is false. 

Now, the list of new "Friends" -- in no order, as to date, time, or amount -- includes: Bob and Donna Starford; Kevin and Ellen Bruny; Ronald and Karen Fertig; Kenneth and Dianna Poling; June and Roger Post; Ruth and Eugene Jaumont; James Manno; Phil's Tire and Auto Repair; Bolyard Enterprises; Brenda and Charles King; Sharon Stobart; Connie and Aronald Bramer; Clare Sturms; Ralph and Glenda Sigley; James and Sheila Brown; Misty Finch; Patricia Gallagher; David Jacobs; A, C, Stockett; Charles and Lolita Hall; Mary and Robert Moore Jr.; Kandice, Kevin, and Kim Knotts; Charles and Susan Keener; Davis Revocable Trust; Julie Gray; Cal's Auto; Sandra and Daniel Jacobs; Harry and Nancy White; Betty and Micheal Kean; Arthur and Lucille Goodman; Jean and Frank Faulkner; Harold Rhodes;, John Scritchfield; Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gennette; Sandra Murray; James Murray; Susan and Kenneth McMullen; Brook and Helen Bartlett; David and Mary Nines; Circuit Court Judge Alan and Connie Moats; Mildred, Robert, and Gerald Poling; Clara Demoss and Beverly Stewart; Donald and Gail Hendershot; Thrasher Engineering Inc.; William and Linda Shaw; Mary Phillips; Bob and Ruth Phillips; James and Nancy Reneau; Bob and Virginia Delaney; John Jr. and Ruby Musgrove; Curtis and Joan McDaniel; Richard and Linda Fike; Richard and Jean Andrews; Deeta and Lawrence Chandler; Brenda Loar; Monford Loar; Nevi and James Cassell; Bernard and Shirley Montgom-Paul W Swisher; Beverly Miller; Harold Miller; Curry Amos and Associates Attorney at Law; Patricia Robinson; Bob and Phyllis Leonard; Larry and Sue Andrews; Roberta White; Sheryl Rucker; Chuck and Jill Bennett ; Catherine and Phil Ondo; Edith Jo Foley; Fawcett's Flying Fotos; David Satterfield Sr.; Wilda Nester; Gregg Michael; former Superintendent of Taylor County Schools Jane Reynolds; George and Carol Watkins; Tim and Patricia Conaway; Joe And Doris Newcome; Richard, Peggy, ery; Taylor County Board of Education member Dick and Pam Teagarden; State Farm Insurance Company; Joyce Bredenbeck; and Brian Moore. 

Next week. I will have more "Friends" and you can become one of our "Friends" by sending you contribution to Friends of McKinney Field, PO Box 341 Grafton, WV 26354. 

Just Make your checks out to Grafton High School. 

Once again, don't forget about the concert, Taylor Made, on March 27.

"Friends" have another great week of fund raising!

I must say the "Friends" have had another great week of fund raising! 

 The total as of Friday, Feb. 22, stood at $169,802, which includes $28,296 raised last week. But, that is not counting a $20,000 dollar gift that we receive in a way of a commitment on Monday from 1968 graduate -- and former bearcat quarterback -- Paul Whetsell. In fact, as part of that gift, he also agreed to set up a $50,000 scholarship at Grafton High School. Also, the city of Grafton's generous gift of $7,000 was not included in our total at this time, either. 

 The "Friends" have had to return over $4,000 dollars, because the checks were not made out to Grafton High School, which were not counted into our total. It has been truly unbelievable, the out pouring of support, the phone calls, and the e-mails that many of us have received, as well as, the strong sense of 'Bearcat Loyalty' that we have seen from several people, who have not lived in Taylor County since they graduated some 40-50-60 years ago. 

 We are sorry that some classes have not heard from us. We don't have lists yet for the classes of 1970-73-75-79 , along with 1988 and 89. None of the classes of the 1990's , or 2000's , have been contacted yet, either. 

 Our efforts have not gone unnoticed in the area, because a group of us met with some people from Lincoln High School two weeks ago. They want to do the same thing to Stadahar Stadium. But, unlike them, our Board of Education is solidly behind us. We met for two hours. and we gave them a lot of ideas. But, it looks like Lincoln has decided to go the way of a lease purchase, so that the school can have a turf field by August. 

 Now, here is this week's list of "Friends." 

 Our second gift was given by Dennis and Deborah Mick. Then, in no particular order, as to time, date, or amount, we have: Kathryn Magnifico; James Wolf; JoAnn Ball and Wilda Swisher; Floren Warder; Larwence and Rosemary Satterfield; William and Sharon Shumaker; Rita Cockerham; Barbara and Richard Johns; David and Judith Thorn; William Stevens; Gary Tansill; Thomas and Margarey Johns; Robert and Linda Cockrell; Rick and Peggy Poling; Jim and Sherry Isner; John Rinker; Karla and Dr. Ernest Flores; Larry and Sara Weaver; Sue and Dave Hedrick; Brandy Kenner; Kevin Stean; Joe and Sue Law; Charles and Glenice Cather Memorial Trust Fund; 1962 Class Reunion Fund; Taylor County Board of Education member Judith and Donnis Barney; 4-W Financial Corp.; Brian and Connie Cochran; Elkview Bulders Inc.; Cynthia Flanagan; Daniel and Jeanine Mankins; Douglas Latimer; John and Jeanie Bord; John and Idalee Whitescarver; Dr. Donald Thompson; Kelly and Crystal Forester; the Taylor County Commission ; Col. Robert and Barbara Hamilton; Paul and Julie Reneau; Ben and Nancy Cox; Danny and DeAnn Williams; City Window and Construction; Holly Hill; Dr. Paul and Jane Malone; Scott and Shanna Bosko; Gerald and Judith Goodwin,; Karen and Troy Freerksen; James and Nancy Work; Fay and Dan Kirkpatrick ; Assistant Superintendent of Taylor County Schools Sam and Judith McDaniel; Thomas and Jill Sturm; Matt and Beth Dillion; Calvain and Barbara Johnson; Jonathan Matheny; Matt Weaver; Walter and Antionette Gaines; Betsy and Ron Moran; and Charles and Florence Bragg... More friends are coming next week. We do want to thank Dr. David Bender at Grafton City Hospital. He took 75 of our fliers to send out to his "Friends." 

 You too can become a "Friend" by sending your contribution to: The Friends of McKinney Field, PO Box 341 Grafton, WV, 26354. Make sure your check is made out to Grafton High School, with the memo line showing, The Friends of McKinney Field.

Who are some of the Friends of McKinney Field?

This is the first in a series of columns, dealing with the progress that the Friends of McKinney Field have made in terms of raising $300,000 dollars for their share to match the Board of Education's $350,000 dollars to get new turf for McKinney Field.

 The big news last week was the approval and signing of the contract with Pro-Grass LLS for our new field . This was a major step forward, and the Friends cannot thank the Taylor County Board of Education enough for their vision and commitment.

 The fund-raising project began in earnest, just after Christmas , and it really got into high gear about a month ago.

 As of Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, we had approximately $139,000 in our account at the Board of Education office. That amount is not counting a gift in the form of discounting the stone and delivery from Greer Limestone... We may not know the actual amount of that final contribution, until the work is done. But, it may be about $30,000.

We also have a commitment of at least $25,000 by the end of this month.

Dr. David Bender, who has taken the lead for us with the medical staff in the community, and Rich Rager, of RRHAMCO, are both working on donations to our cause. Plus, Gary Bolyard, at First Community Bank, along with Shelia Spino, at BBT, have approached their respective managements for us. Remember that any and all donations to the "Friends" are tax deductible. And, you can become a "Friend" at any time. Sooner is better than later.

 In the last month alone, the "Friends" have logged over 700 volunteer hours printing letters and brochures, as well as, stuffing and addressing envelopes. These letters, some with personal notes, were mailed to alumni of Grafton High School from the 40's through the 80's , and also to the alumni from St. Augustine and Flemington High Schools.

 Although this is a rough figure , I would venture to say over 5,000 letters have been mailed out to date, and all of the postage has been paid for by the "Friends" and not by tax payer money.

 This effort is paying off at the rate of about $4,500 a day, received in the mail.

 If you haven't received a letter from us, the chances are good that we don't have your class list yet, or that we have an incorrect address and your letter came back to us.

 In each column that I write in the coming weeks, we want to acknowledge some of the "Friends" to date. And, hopefully by the time our project is complete, you will come to realize this was truly a "Friends" project, or even just a Taylor County project.

The very first gift we received was from old leather helmet, George Hershman... I needed to tell you that in this first column. Then, in no particular order as to time, date, and contribution amount, the following people have made contributions to our project: Larry Richman; Doug and Mary Tucker; Michael and Doris Nestor; Grafton Rotary Club; Bill and Judy Collett; Dr. Bruce Haislip; Dr. Charles and Martha Bennett; James and Betty Engleka; Nancy and Melissa Mason; Thomas Jenkins; Joe and Mary Warder; Sylvia Allen; Joan and Ronald McKnight; Paul McDaniel; Greg and Lynn Cartwright; Catherine Ledonne; John and Sue Reneman; Paul and Becky Weigand; David and Mary Wiant; Jean Shafferman; Linda and Gary Knotts; Jim and Linda Rubenstein; Evelyn and Ralph Flanigan; Mason and Mary Moats; Mr. and Mrs. Jack Travis; Kermit and Joan Bias; David and Karen Rogers; Lonnie and Barb Lough; Benjamin and Nancy Cox; Arnold and Beverly Kuhl; Stephen and Bonnie Woods; Shawn and Donette Nines; Westfall Leasing Company; Robert and Donna Jennings; Lonnie and Marie Martin; Gerald and Nancy Hebb; Thomas and Delderta Cuppet ; Charles and Linda Cather; Edward Kerns; Brenda and Josh Rosier; Lewis and Katrina Pauley; Norman and Velma Adlington ; Richard and Helen Poe; and James Michel, Robert and Cathy Sciegaj.

That is but a few of our "Friends" and you'll see some more of them next week.

One more thing I must say, I have never been a part of a group, board, or committee like the Friends of McKinney Field. This committee is made up of people, who currently have few ties to McKinney Field, other than memories, and a sense of community.

As my good friend, Tom Friend, used to say "they really don't have a dog in the fight ," yet, this group of Taylor County people have put forth an extraordinary effort for the youth of this county.

Will we raise the money, and the only group rooting against us are the Canada Geese!

We will be having our next Friends of McKinney Field committee meeting this Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 6 p.m. in the Mary Battle Room at Grafton High School. And, if you are reading this column, then you are invited to attend this meeting.

Call to Action!

It has been awhile since I wrote a column about the Friends of McKinney Field. The staff at the Mountain Statesman has been keeping you well informed. But now it comes down to us, the Board of Education has given us $350,000. In fact at their December 18th meeting they will vote to buy the turf now, have it stored for them, until the project is fully funded. The cost is $250,000.

I've heard all the negatives, why would they do that, to many unknowns. What if the Friends of McKinney Field (FMF) don't raise the $300,000 dollars, the Board will be stuck with a big piece of rug. We know there are doomsayers out there.

However, we believe by August 1st 2013, our student athletes will be playing on a new field. What do we base that on?, in part on the people of Taylor County, this county is unique when a need has risen, the people have always responded. When my mother set out in the 1970's to have a track built at McKinney Field, she was told it will never happen. It didn’t stop her, those who believe in the project. A track got built.  When Mike Skinner and Dave Rogers set out to build a facility building at GHS, they were told they could never raise that kind of money. It's what 25+ years old. Drive past the little league field, all the time, effort, and money that people put in that or what about youth soccer, they are building  new fields. How much did the Band raise for new uniforms. Have Dr.Findley or the AD at GHS take you down to the area under the old Claire Bee gym, you'll find one of the best equip  weight rooms for a high school or a small college in the state of West Virginia. The conditioning room is covered by a 25 yard x 20 yard piece of St. Louis Rams stadium turf. All from donations and gifts. We are a unique county. People in other counties say it can't be done, and don't start. By the time people say we can't do something in this county, the project is half way done.

 Maybe it's because we are stuck in between counties that are well endowed, who don't have to spend a lot of time on a project, and counties where people give up without a fight.

The other part of why we believe that our student-athletes will be playing on a new field come August is, Grafton High School has a strong alumni base. we have been contacted by some of those wanting to help, we haven't even gotten the fund raising  in full gear yet. The internet is a wonderful tool, go to our site, . We have been contacted by alumni as far away as California. We have alumni from Flemington, and St.Augustine High Schools offering help. This is truly a county project.

My next column will tell you what you can do, to be part of our team, and tell you exactly where we are at. Can't, and won't are not words in our vocabulary.

Stay tuned - More to come!

John Bord