SCALED-DOWN BLEACHERS FOR SOCCER MAKE SENSE

February 05, 2002 11:00 pm

Its good to see that the La Grande School District is stepping forward to make sure the high school is not denied a quality soccer field that includes adequate spectator seating.

District officials could have opted to clear out the old wooden bleachers at the middle school field after they were severely damaged by the wind on Nov. 28. The covered bleachers, seating 300 people, cannot be used because of broken boards and exposed nails.

Many school districts have soccer fields with no spectator seating. The

La Grande district, however, is looking at using $30,000 in insurance money to install metal bleachers to replace the old ones. The problem is that the district will fall about $80,000 short of being able to pay for a roof for stands seating 300 people.

The LHS Soccer Booster Club has a good solution. Why not install covered stands for fewer spectators?

Union County has had an excellent youth soccer program for several years, training children from a young age how to play the game. La Grande High Schools soccer program has surfaced as one of the best in the region. Both the boys and girls teams won their league championships in the past two seasons.

The school district should stay within its budget and install covered stands for about 100 spectators now. As soccer continues to develop strong roots in the community and more fans start showing up for games, money could be raised to expand the seating area. Businesses and other donors could be asked to purchase seats bearing their names. A portion of each set of bleachers could include a certain number of sponsored seats. But for now, the smaller bleacher proposal with a roof overhead makes good sense.

CONSIDER CITY COUNCIL

Retirement brings opportunities for community service, as former Eastern Oregon University professor Doyle Slater has discovered.

Slater served on the La Grande Planning Commission before joining the city council. He has been a thoughtful, effective city councilor, but retirement is drawing Slater and his wife into some other activities, including travel.

Thats why Slater will not put his name up for re-election in this years May and November elections. His position will be open on the council. The seats now held by Councilors Dana Wright, Joel Goldstein and Steve Clements and Mayor Colleen Johnson are also up for grabs, although all four say they will run for another term.

Slater has enjoyed his time on the council, calling it an invaluable learning experience and a chance to serve his community.

Certainly there are many other people in La Grande who have the skills and dedication to serve on the council, and also would enjoy the chance to learn about local government and serve their fellow citizens. Those who have thought in the past about council service should plan to pick up a petition in the city recorders office and return it by the March 21 filing deadline. It would be good to see several of the council races contested this year. Citizens are better served when they have a choice.