The People’s Tribune

Van-Far Receives Matching Grant to Update District’s Track & Field Facility

Athlete Track or Running Track with nice scenic

A project that has been in the works for multiple years will finally come to fruition next spring, and Van-Far will finally have a track & field facility worthy of the state ranked athletes who attend the school district.

In fact, they may have a new upgraded track there as early as May 2022. 

“The Van-Far R1 School District along with the Van-Far Athletic Booster Club are excited to announce the award of a $250,000 grant through the Land & Water Conservation Fund (LWCF),” a recent announcement stated. “These funds are made available through the U.S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service.  The program is intended to create and maintain a nationwide legacy of high-quality recreation areas and facilities and to stimulate non-federal investments in the protection and maintenance of recreation resources across the United States.” 

According to Van-Far School District’s Superintendent, John Fortney, the district has been waiting since last October for word on if they would receive the funding. 

“We couldn’t put a shovel in the ground until we knew for sure that we had the grant,” Fortney explained. “The district started the process before I became the superintendent here, and it’s awesome that we can finally start moving forward on this project.” 

Portions of the funding for the project came from left over funds from the bond issue and money the district was able to utilize money from what the CARES Act funding supplemented. 

Fortney told the Tribune that once the district has received the blind bids by Nov. 1, they will hold a special board meeting to select the winning bid and continue the forward momentum on the project.  

“We have volunteers from the community who are willing to help move dirt and other aspects as soon as possible,” he said.  

According to the announcement, the funds for the project “are part of a matching grant which will be used to renovate the District’s track and field facility. The District will be installing an all-weather track along with updated field event areas.  This project, which is currently in the Request for Proposal (RFP) process, looks to be completed by late Spring of 2022 and will provide much needed updates for the District and an additional space for the community to exercise.” 

Weather permitting, students and community members could be stepping foot on a new 8-lane track sometime in May. Although with Missouri springtime weather, it may be more realistic to hit a mid to late June target.  

“It’s going to be a huge improvement for the students,” Fortney said. “Our goal is to host dual meets.” He went on to explain that with the upgraded facility, the district could possibly host larger events such as districts. “It’s something we’ll certainly put in for.” 

The new track is only part of what will be an upgraded sports facility for the school district. Fortney explained the football field will remain in the center of the expanded track which will displace the softball field. 

“One of the things we’re lucky to have here at Van-Far, is that we have plenty of room,” Fortney continued. “We’re going to basically flip the softball field onto the other side the football stands. It’s going to impact the athletes a little, but we’re going to do what it takes to ensure they are able to train and compete even if that means busing them other fields. The kids have done a great job and we’re going to continue make sure they get what they need.” 

While the track will be first on the list, the school district is planning to work concurrently on as many aspects of the upgraded sports facility as possible. 

“We’re very excited to receive this grant money and get the project underway,” Fortney continued. “This grant could not have been possible without the efforts of the Van-Far Community, Van-Far Athletic Booster Club, along with Mrs. Tracy Wilburn (Booster Club President).”  

RFPs are being accepted until November 1, 2021 with the award of the project shortly after.   

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