Winship Middle School Overhaul
Eureka City Schools Board of Education, along with Fred Van Vleck, made the decision to reopen the Winship site as a middle school. After the decision was made, things moved quickly. Our own Rotarian, Kathleen Cloney-Gardiner, was named principal. From there, a Winship leadership team was put in place. The district had enough funds to ensure a solid 21st century education, but not enough to address the aesthetics. The condition of the athletic fields was less than optimal as well; upgrades to them would also have to wait.
Realizing that a first impression is critical, the principal came to her Rotarian family and requested our help. This soon became The Rotary Club of Eureka’s community service project in the 2013/14 years, and was the biggest project our club had ever undertaken. Our Eureka Rotary Club, working with our community, Teen Challenge, and SWAP programs, transformed this school by aesthetically and functionally re-doing the Winship grounds. Another exceptional Rotarian, Jack Rieke from Shafer’s Ace Hardware, stepped up and provided all the paint for the entire school. (He even let Kathy and her team chose the colors!)
This was a wonderfully worthwhile project because so many members of our community got involved in the name of children. The list of our accomplishments on the Winship campus is remarkable and can be found on the Rotary1.org website. This project was accomplished in only a few short weeks during summer break, with members working daily to meet the opening of the school deadline. The district is appreciative and very thankful for the hundreds of thousands of dollars contributed that now can go to further educate the youth in our community.
If a picture speaks a thousand words, please take a moment to review the before and after aerial photographs of Winship Middle School.
Bud Cloney Baseball Field Project – Eureka High School
Over two decades ago, Eureka High School worked with the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Guard to create a baseball field by filling in the gully across the street from the football field. In order to do this the high school needed more land.
Rotarian Hank Pierson’s father and Rotarian Greg Pierson’s grandfather Ernest Pierson owned that land. Rather than ask them for the land, the school district took it by eminent domain. It was a very sore subject with Mr. Pierson. That alone could have killed this project, but both Hank and Greg were very supportive, and in the end Greg’s contribution was huge.
The baseball field was also named after the father of one of our Rotarians – Kathleen Cloney-Gardiner. Kathleen is a fifth generation Humboldt County descendant. Her father, Bud Cloney, for whom the field was named, was on the school board for 12 years and president for eight (though not during the eminent domain process).
Unfortunately, when the field was built, it had not been properly engineered — there wasn’t enough drainage to make the field usable. For several years the high school attempted to play on it, but they eventually were forced to concede that it was just too wet, and the field was left to lie dormant.
In 2008, when Kathleen became the Assistant Principal at the high school, she started looking into why the field was not being used. She talked to the athletic department and found that there was indeed a need for this field to be fixed — the high school baseball team had to practice and play its games on other fields, which created a significant liability for the school and did nothing to foster school spirit. In addition, if the field were fixed, it could also be used as an intramural field for physical education, a secondary soccer field, and a drill field for the Navy National Defense Cadet Corps.
To fix it right we called in the experts. We turned to our Rotarian Greg Williston, a geologist and regional manager with SHN Engineering. Throughout the year Greg dug some 25 surface wells to monitor what parts of the field were wet and during what periods. He had a topographic survey done of the entire baseball field.
Greg and Rotarian Eric Bergel laid out the work plan for the ball field. Eric went back and installed some solid drainage lines to collect the runoff from the buildings, and he also fixed the electrical lines going to the scoreboard. Rotarian Greg Pierson and his company, Pierson Construction, did a lot of the heavy lifting with their big equipment. As it turned out, part of the fill for the ball field was old construction debris, which had to be broken up to dig the trench, and added additional days to the project.
This project simply could not have been done without the huge volunteer labor of the Rotary Club of Eureka. The field was finished off with a new score board courtesy of the Sign Smith Fund.
Today Eureka High School has a wonderful ball field to practice and play their home games on.