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H.S. Notes: Hartford High Forming Group to Study Facility Needs



Valley News Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 07, 2018

White River Junction — Hartford High athletic director Jeff Moreno is taking the responsible route when it comes to the facilities used by the athletic teams and programs under his guidance. It’s a task he won’t tackle alone.

Moreno, the school and the Hartford Parks and Recreation Department announced last Friday plans to form a committee of community participants to study the town’s athletic facilities, among them the Maxfield Sports Complex and Wendell A. Barwood Arena, for short- and long-term maintenance.

The goal, Moreno said, is to collect inventory of the issues and predicted lifespans of both the facilities themselves and their elements — scoreboards, bleachers and the like — and to put larger projects, like a turf football field and a outdoor track, on the right financial path.

“I think this is new territory for us,” Moreno said on Tuesday. “I think we have a responsibility to the taxpayers to find out what we have, what it costs to maintain and what some of these new projects may cost down the road.”

The committee is to be made up of at least five community members with what Moreno hopes are different perspectives on Hartford’s various facilities. It will begin meeting in late February. The goal, he said, is to put findings in front of the Hartford School Board by this summer, in time to influence next year’s budget.

Hartford’s athletic facilities have been under a spotlight in the last few years.

Friends of Hartford Track , a nonprofit group that supports the installation of a track on the high school campus, collected more than 600 signatures in a bid to to put a question related to the track on the Town Meeting ballot, but the School Board declined to do so, with school officials citing concerns about the wording. Former Selectman F.X. Flinn has filed a lawsuit to put the article on the warning; a judge last week denied a request for a preliminary injunction to put the matter on the warning before the underlying lawsuit is resolved.

Parks and Recreation director Scott Hausler has also sought $750,000 to overhaul Barwood Arena’s refrigeration system and replace its dasher boards.

But Moreno is most immediately concerned about the potential Title IX disparity between the schools’ boys and girls facilities. Hartford’s field hockey and softball teams play on fields without lights. Its girls lacrosse and soccer teams only recently started playing on Hartford’s lighted football field. The baseball team, which calls Maxfield home, only has lights because the NECBL’s Upper Valley Nighthawks share their field.

“We’re definitely concerned with where we stand with Title IX,” Moreno said. “We want to give our athletes the same exposure under the same circumstances.”

Members of the community interested in serving are encouraged to reach out to Moreno at morenoj@hartfordschools.net.

Lebanon Softball Coming Home … Eventually: Lebanon High athletic director Mike Stone and Lebanon School District director of facilities Dana Arey have confirmed that the Lebanon School Board has approved the reconstruction of the high school’s on-campus softball field on the corner of Heater and Old Etna roads.

The field, which sits behind Lebanon’s varsity soccer field, has sat vacant for at least the last decade due to a poor drainage system and safety concerns for passing vehicles from foul balls. Arey said the cost of the project will be about $250,000 and will include an updated drainage system and netting 30 feet high on the third-base side to keep balls from the roadways.

The Raiders have played on Elks Field on Labombard Road since abandoning its on-campus digs. That will change this spring, as Elks Field is set to become a parking lot for Dartmouth Coach’s renovated headquarters along N.H. Route 120. The Raiders will play their games at Civic Memorial Park next to the former Seminary Hill School this spring.

Stone and Arey hope to begin construction on Lebanon’s renovated field this summer, in time to have the Raiders move back in 2019.

Windsor Softball Hires Grad as Coach: Windsor High’s athletic department announced early last week that it had hired Windsor graduate, former softball athlete and longtime Yellowjacket assistant coach Heather Stearns to be its next varsity softball coach.

“I’m not 100 percent sure it’s actually hit me yet,” she said over the phone last Wednesday. “Windsor has always been where I’ve been mentally. I love the sports in Windsor, I loved watching my kids play there. The community is great. This just felt like the next step for me.”

Stearns graduated from Windsor in 1993 and works in the budget office at Mount Ascutney Hospital. She takes over for Phil Hathorn, who led the Yellowjackets to a 72-71 overall regular-season record in a nine-year stretch at the helm. Windsor was 2-30 in its last two seasons. Stearns served as an assistant coach under Hathorn for seven seasons.

“(Hathorn) was really good about bouncing things off of me,” she said. “I feel like because of those responsibilities, I’m ready for the next step.”

Windsor graduated four from last year’s squad last spring, including starting catcher Erin Wierzbicki.

Hanover Softball Has Coach in Mind: Hanover High athletic director Mike Jackson said that he will be recommending Mariruth Graham, a Coldwell Banker real estate agent and Hanover resident, to be the school’s next varsity softball coach in time for the Hanover School Board’s next meeting later this month.

The Marauders began their coaching search after Jessica Belley stepped down after two seasons. Hanover went 0-18 in 2016, while playing at Norwich’s Huntley Meadows and won their first game in two seasons in 2017 after moving to a new $200,000 facility at the Dresden Athletic Fields in Norwich. Juniors Becca Wilson, a pitcher, and Daria Gundermann, an outfielder, are the only two athletes with multiple years of experience returning to the team.

Mascoma Promotes Isom: Mascoma High has hired junior varsity coach Dave Isom as its new varsity baseball coach to replace longtime boss Guy Serviss, who retired at the end of last season.

“I’m really excited,” Isom said. “Me and (Serviss) have the same idea baseball-wise about how to do things. Hopefully I can pump some energy back into the program, and try to improve.”

Isom, an Enfield resident who works for Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center as an information systems analyst, moved to the Upper Valley in 2010, two years after graduating from Northern Illinois University. He’s helped Kimball Union Academy’s baseball program as a pitching coach, plays on the Connecticut River IronMen of the Connecticut River Valley Baseball League and has served as Mascoma’s junior varsity coach for the last two seasons.

The Royals were 1-15 last season.

Josh Weinreb can be reached at jweinreb@vnews.com or 603-727-3306.

Correction

F.X. Flinn, a supporter of the nonprofit Friends of Hartford Track, has filed a lawsuit to put a petitioned article on the Hartford Town Meeting warning related to building a track. A judge last week denied a request for a preliminary injunction to put the matter on the warning before the underlying lawsuit is resolved. An earlier version of this story incorrectly described the status of the lawsuit and who had filed it.