Those who attended last Friday night’s first home football game of the season probably noticed several changes made over the summer at Merle B. Snyder Field. Local contractors, school district employees, alumni volunteers, and Cougar football players joined together over the summer months to give the athletic facility a needed facelift.
The first thing Cougar football fans probably noticed was that the concrete posts were removed from the sidelines on both sides of the field. The posts not only held up a wire strand fence, but also marked each yard stripe on the field.
“I thought those posts were dangerous the first time I came to a football game,” said Superintendent Rick Linehan. “They were a danger to any player going out of bounds at full speed.
“So, a couple of years ago, we removed the wire cables. This year, we removed the posts. Taking out the posts eliminated the danger and made it look more like a football field.”
Something else Friday night’s game-goers probably noticed was that every structure inside the facility had been painted.
Mike Bellevue’s Chewelah Painting crew spent three days last week at the field. On Wednesday, they put a new coat of Cougar navy blue on the announcer’s booth, the wooden grandstands, the wall in front of the stands, the baseball dugouts, the ticket booths, along with the building containing the halftime rooms, the concession stand, and the custodian’s garage. On Thursday and Friday, they added the white trim in time for the game.
In the painting process, the “Cougar Country” across the retaining wall and several paw prints were hidden under a new coat of blue paint. In its place, Rob Hedges painted a Cougar head in the middle of the wall.
Those who worked up in the booth surely were aware that it had lost its traditional rock and roll effect. That is because earlier in the summer, Steve Savitz put new cross-bracing on the announcer’s booth to take away the swing and the sway.
“The whole booth rocked back and forth last year whenever anyone climbed the stairs or walked through the booth,” said Savitz. “I put a new dead man anchor post in the southeast corner of the booth where the base of the original post was rotting away. I also put in some 2×12 cross-bracing, shored up the stairs, and tightened all the bolts on the tower and the stairways.”
“With the added cross-bracing and the new paint, the booth should be safe and look nice,” said Linehan.
Those who took a closer look around Snyder Field saw that a massive clean-up had taken place in the southwest corner.
“That corner was a bone yard,” explained Linehan. “It took three days to get the mess cleaned up. There was junk that had been there since the 1960s.
Dennis Bean, Mike Ludwig, Bill Edwards, and Alan West (Class of 1967), along with Dick Schneider and Bob Raines (1966), Terry Frizzell (1958), John Hansen, Hoxie (1977), Linehan and several members of the Cougar football team got the job done.
Bean has spearheaded an alumni effort organized by the Class of 1967 to clean up and fix up the athletic facilities at Snyder Field.
“We’re just continuing a tradition that started when we were in high school here,” said Bean. “This field was built when we were football players and we were one of the first teams to play on it.
“We remember how the community came together to help back then, so we are carrying on their tradition. There is a lot more work to be done there, and we plan to finish it.
Bean believes that no matter what needs to be done to Chewelah’s athletic facilities, there are Cougar alumni who have the time, the talent, and the equipment to get it done.
“And we want everyone to know that we are proud to have a superintendent like Rick Linehan who cares about our athletic facilities. Rick worked right along with us, and he is not afraid of hard work. He and Lonnie Hoxie both worked right alongside us to get this done before our first football game.”
From the clean-up, two dump trucks full of dirt and cement were taken out of the corner. The city sent its front-end loader to load the two trucks. The cement was hauled away. The dirt was stockpiled, and the scrap metal was sold, with the money going to the football team for helping.
“We’re going to use the dirt to re-crown the football field,” said Bean. “When we are able to get it done depends on the weather. We hope to do it after the last football game this season if the ground isn’t frozen. If it is frozen, we’ll do it in the spring or early next summer. We want it ready for football season next fall.”
Hansen also hauled his tracked backhoe to the field on his lowboy trailer on Saturday, August 25. With the help of Frizzell, Ludwig, and Bean, he removed all the trees, shrubs, and bushes from under the announcer’s booth and along west property line. A new chain link fence will be erected along that line. With the finishing of this fence, the entire complex will be enclosed with chain link.
In an attempt to complete the third softball field at the Barbour Complex behind the high school, two new brick dugouts were built by a group put together by the Chewelah alumni from the Class of 2002. Working on the project were Mike McMillin, Dale Oman, Mike Frizzell, Bruce Stumpf, Logan Washington, James Morris, Lace Koler, Tom Skok, and superintendent Linehan.
“It took two full days to get both dugouts built,” said Linehan. “And, it has taken us 18 years to finally finish the Barbour Complex according to the original plans envisioned by Tom Carlson and Pat Davidson.”
The city crew added the top panels to the backstop at the same time. So, the new softball field should be ready for use in the spring.
The plan is to finish the fencing, the gates, the benches inside the dugout, and the roof over the dugout before winter, if possible.
“Our overall goal this summer is to show the community that we care about and take care of our athletic facilities,” concluded Linehan, “and we thank everyone who has helped.”
By Geno Ludwig, The Independent Staff
In This Photo: Rob Hedges paints a new cougar head on the retaining wall at Merle B. Snyder Field. Geno Ludwig photo