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This feature first appeared in the Fourth Quarter 2012 Issue of Lincoln County Magazine.  Subscribe today to make sure you receive the next issue.

Panthers’ New Field

Left to Right: (1) School district maintenance employee Ken Back working on footings for the grand stand. (2) Middle and high school student-althletes spend a day laying cinder block. (3) Crews working overtime to finish grand stand. (4) Completed stand ready in time for first home game. Photos courtesy of Dr. Ken Higbee.

By Ben Rowley

They are not naming Pahranagat Valley High School’s football stadium after anybody.

It just wouldn’t make any sense. Too many people have helped build the program over the years, not to mention all those who helped build PV Football’s new digs.

Instead, signs on the new stand read “Pahranagat Alumni Stadium”, and the structure, those bright new lights, and freshly planted sod are all there as a monument to a community coming together to make the impossible a reality.

Why impossible? Just look at the math. The football mecca the Panthers and their fans now enjoy would have cost hundreds of thousands of dollars if everything had been hired out, yet the Lincoln County School District’s Building and Sites Committee budgeted only $95,000 for the project.

And when it was finished, they came in under budget. How did it happen? Pure generosity.

Surveying and leveling the surface alone would have taken up 16 percent of the budget. Instead, the Lincoln County Road Department stepped in, with authorization from the county commissioners, and offered their blades, if the school district agreed to provide the fuel. What would have been $15,000 ended up costing $1,000. The school district would not have been able to level and re-sod the field otherwise, according to Assistant Superintendent Steve Hansen.

“That would have been a huge expense to get a company in there with blades and moving dirt,” Hansen said.

Then there’s the lights.

The initial plan included tearing down the tower, removing the track and creating one at the elementary school (a separate project), and replacing the sod and sprinkler system.

In the fall of last year, just as they were preparing to begin work, Lane Leavitt mentioned that the city of North Las Vegas was taking down a set of lights at the Cheyenne Sports Complex. District officials inquired and the city said they would take the lights down and donate them to the school if the district could provide a crew to haul them away.

So with a rented backhoe and long trailers provided by Christian Enterprises and Holton Trucking, a crew of ten individuals trekked to North Las Vegas. They unbolted the lights and watched as a crane laid them down. The group then dragged them onto the trailers and took them home.

“It was an amazing thing, the kind of support and donations,” Hansen said. “And it was funny because it just kind of just fell into our lap.”

Purchasing the polls and lights alone would have eaten up a $95,000 budget, easy. The school district received them free of charge.
Then there’s the labor.

Work on the new field began in early 2012, and crews, mostly of volunteers, labored daily to knock out the massive project.
Head Coach Ken Higbee estimates that around 120 to 140 people volunteered their time and/or equipment, though he said it would be hard to calculate the amount of total hours donated.

But you only needed to drive by the field during the summer to see what was happening. There they were – coaches, dads, community members, and student athletes – working in the heat of the day, moving dirt, building a sprinkler system, planting sod, laying cinder block, pouring grout, assembling benches, painting, wiring, and on and on.

“It was neat to see the community come together to make something like this happen,” Dr. Higbee said.

Many businesses, organizations, and individuals were particularly instrumental, accordint to the school district. Among them were district maintenance employees Ken Back and Ryan Rhodes, who put in long hours in order to have the field and grandstand completed in time, according to Dr. Higbee.

“They were huge in getting that done,” the coach said.

And so football is a little different in Pahranagat Valley. Now, you can actually see the game.

Before, a spectator would need to stand on the top rows of the bleachers to have a clear view of what was happening on the field. Folks at ground level would either need to move as the players on the sidelines moved or park themselves near the end zones. But with the new grand stand, every seat is high above the ground. From any spot, you have a fine view of the action.

There is plenty of room on the sidelines for coaches, players, and cheerleaders. The grand stand has a nice press and score keeping box and a much safer area for camera people on the roof. And the lights tower above it all, providing more than enough illumination on those fall, Friday nights.

The reason for this is what has not changed here: the willingness to give of time, self, money, and energy to something bigger than you.
“Our football program has always been about our team,” the coach said. “There is not one individual that is more important than another. Even when we have these really good football players, they understand that they are not above the team. The young freshmen that gets in at the end of the game is just as important as our MVP, if you will.

“That’s, I believe, why we are successful.”

Those same ideals were exemplified by community members who helped make the impossible a reality.

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