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A new look for Alpena

AHS athletic facilities undergoing major upgrades

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki The Alpena gymnasium floor is shown as work continues to be done as the floor has been redone and received a new paint job this summer. The basketball court and volleyball court will be separated and painted, showing sponsor logos near each sideline.

Alpena High School is in the process of getting some major upgrades.

A few days after school was dismissed for the summer, the athletic facilities on the campus of Alpena High School began undergoing some major changes.

These upgrades include the gymnasium floor being redone and repainted, and artificial turf is being put in on the football field. The rest of the lights at the football stadium are also being replaced.

The facilities at Alpena High have been in need of an upgrade for a while now and Alpena High athletic director Tim Storch, his committee, Jim Park and his family, along with the community support are a reason Alpena will have some top notch facilities ready for the 2019-2020 school year and beyond.

“We’re way ahead of schedule at this point and time. We’re hoping that things continue and kudos to the crews that have been here and the different construction companies that have done their job because they’ve been fantastic,” Storch said. “It’s a great feeling to know that we’ve got the support of the community to do this and certainly to the Park family and foundation for making this possible. It’s just a testimony to their dedication to this community and when people see this I think they’re just going to be in awe that this is something that Alpena has.”

Courtesy Photo A layout of the gym floor is also shown.

All of the current upgrades–dating back to the 2016 installation of the video scoreboard at the football field–are being funded by community sponsors and the Park family, with zero dollars coming from the school’s budget or athletic funds.

The process is right on schedule and barring any unforeseen setbacks, the field turf at the stadium and gymnasium should be ready for competition when sports resume in the third full week of August.

The basketball and volleyball courts are being repainted and designed in a way where the local businesses who donated to the project will be recognized on the gym floor.

A total of 10 community sponsors–MidMichigan Medical Center-Alpena, HPC Credit Union, Alpena Agency, Alpena Alcona Area Credit Union, Meijer, Wolverine State Credit Union, Bay Athletic Club, Northland Area Federal Credit Union, Biggby Coffee and the US Army–are among the sponsors that will be displayed on the gym floor of the basketball court and seven sponsor logos will be seen on the volleyball side.

The two courts will be separated with the main floor being painted for basketball and the far side of the gym that regularly holds volleyball matches will continue to do so.

News Photo by Jonny Zawacki Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium has recently been torn up so artificial turf can be installed for the upcoming football and soccer seasons. Not only will the stadium feature a turf playing surface, but eight brand new sets of lights will be installed to go along with the video scoreboard and sound system that has been up and running for the past two years.

“This is going to be a nice, clean, fresh look to a great school that should be proud of the facilities it’s going to have. This will be one of the highlights of this region and I’ve been in contact with the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) about the possibility of hosting state playoff games for sports across all divisions, which would bring in revenue,” Storch said.

Along with the upgrades to the gym floor, four more sets of lights will put up and completed so the stadium will have a full set of lights for football and soccer competition that will be held at Park Family Field at Wildcat Stadium.

The stadium will now feature a brand new video scoreboard, a full set of brand new stadium lights, a new sound system and a turf field that will have lines painted for football, soccer and lacrosse if that eventually sport is eventually sponsored.

A midfield logo will appear on the field with the possibility of sponsor logos near the sidelines of the field as well.

“This is my sixth year as athletic director and one of the first things we had to do was replace the scoreboard. Our vision was to make it a video scoreboard so we could try and generate revenue through advertising and have it be an ongoing source of revenue for the schools, not just for athletics, but for other areas as well. It was a large task and we got a lot of businesses involved and all of our sponsors are on display at the field,” Storch said. “With all of the companies that have come together to help us, we have probably generated a quarter of a million dollars in renovations that they’ve all help support. This could never be done without the generosity of all of the people involved.”

Since Storch has been athletic director, the school has seen a tremendous amount of upgrades to the athletic facilities and all of his visions for improvements have become reality over the last several years.

“I come from Oakland County and the school funding is very different, unfairly very different and I was shocked and alarmed to come to Alpena and find that they didn’t have the same benefits in school funding that Oakland County has,” Storch said. “I am also cognisant that this is a tough area to sell people on millages and I knew it was going to tough to sell people on the athletic side of it and my eyes were wide open, but I figured I had to rely on my contacts and ability to fundraise and it was something that I was comfortable doing and something I had done in the past. I had enough contacts with different people and found willing partners up here that assisted me. It wasn’t just me and through a lot of efforts from all of these people and tremendous support from the community, I think people shared our vision.”