Pilot story and photos by Andrea Barkan
The Elks Lodge in Brookings was filled with poodle skirts and white T-shirts Saturday night during a benefit that borrowed from the past to raise funds for the future.
Officials estimate the 1950s-themed Rock Around the Track benefit raised $14,000 to help finish the track at Elmer Bankus Field.
Brookings-Harbor Rotary Club hosted the event. Organizers Daryn Farmer and Kevin Moerke, both Rotarians and Booster Club members, helped transform the Elks Lodge into a sock hop where old 45s decorated the tables and women dressed to match the pink poodle party favors.
The hop featured silent and live auctions, prize drawings, dinner, live music and dancing.
A plethora of local merchants donated goods for auction, from an ocean kayak to an eight-week art class.
"The auction raised thousands of dollars," said George Park, Brookings-Harbor High School principal.
Final tallies weren't available by press time. Park noted that they took in about $4,000 at the door Saturday night from admission and sales of 50/50 tickets, a regular BHHS Booster Club game.
Robin Sanders, member of the Bringin' Back the Track Committee, said they needed $12,000 for the final step to literally finish the track.
"The goal is met," Sanders said. "That is exciting to say."
Committee members chose to go with a less expensive latex-based all weather finish and save $30,000.
They compared it to the more expensive polyurethane surface. "You get the same durability," Sanders said. "Your difference is in the performance for the athlete."
Nevertheless, it still will be a better surface than what was on the track a year ago.
The main drawback is that the latex surface can't be applied unless the day's temperature reaches 70 degrees.
Sanders is hopeful that a nice warm day will emerge before the district track meet in the spring, which BHHS is supposed to host.
Tidewater Contractors is taking off the track's old surface right now, Sanders said.
Next come sub-base repairs including raising sunken areas.
Then the track will get new asphalt.
The last phase is placing the all-weather surface.
Sanders said any money left over will go to build a cyclone fence around the perimeter to help keep out bicycles and dogs.
"The biggest destroyers of all-weather surfaces are bicycles and animal waste," Sanders said.
Signs prohibiting those things on the track will be posted.
Less than a year has passed since the Bringin' Back the Track Committee formed and hosted its first benefit.
That first fundraiser, the Mulligan Relay, brought in $18,000 in 24 hours, Sanders said.
Park noted that both students and residents use the track.
"It really is a community resource," Park said. "That's why we've had such great support from the community for it."
Park also hopes the new track will be done in time to host the district meet.
"We're hoping it will get done," Park said. "We'd like it to be here."