By Pat Maurer
Thanks to the generosity of the community, and fundraiser’s like the lasagna dinner held at the Doherty Hotel Tuesday evening, the Brookwood 2.0 project is more than a third of the way to their $700,000 goal.
Pioneers are Leaders Committee Chair John Punches said Wednesday, “We had a great turnout last night; around 500 people came and ate. We raised $11,000 at the dinner. So at this point our total [amount] raised is $235,000.”
He continued, “But that is changing daily. We have been selling Tax Day Raffle tickets to raise money, raffle tickets that sell for $10 with winners taking home $500 for first prize, $250 for second and $100 for third. They can be purchased from Print and Pulp, Isabella Bank, Surrey Point Gas Station, student athletes and committee members. We have sent out 500 letters to alumni, previous donors to the school or athletic teams and local businesses. We are also meeting with groups, businesses, residents anyone who is interested in the project and asking for donations. We have received donations from all over the country and even one from a Clare Alumni currently serving in Afghanistan. Some amazing stories.”
He added, “This Friday we start sending out our grant applications to the foundations in the area and the more we have raised the more community support it shows to the grant communities. So our fund raising total is very important for that.”
In late November, the committee was formed to look into renovations to Clare School’s aging 30 year-old Brookwood Athletic Complex.
The Pioneers are Leaders Committee developed and began fundraising efforts for the Brookwood 2.0 Project, a community driven plan to “restore, renovate and update the Brookwood Complex to one of the top athletic complexes in the State.”
According to information released December 29, the first priority for the committee is to replace the grass in the football field with artificial turf.
In the initial release, Punches wrote, “The grass on the present field is 15 years past the recommended replacement time and maintenance on the field costs between $8,000 and $10,000 per year. Replacing the grass would cost between $175,000 and $225,000.”
He said the field is presently used by 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grade youth teams; by 7th and 8th grade Rocket Football teams; by Varsity football players and by a JV football team. This can mean up to eight games a weekend when the seasons overlap. When multiple games and bad weather combine, it takes a big toll on the surface of the field.
Punches wrote, “This caused problems this past fall when seven games were played in a three-day period and it also rained for four days. The remainder of the regular varsity season and for the playoffs, varsity parents placed tarps over parts of the field to keep it playable.”
Replacing the grass with artificial turf would be expensive, Punches said. “A turf field does have a big cost, estimated at $650,000. Half would be for the ground work and half is for the cost of the turf.”
Once it is installed though, upkeep is as little as a tenth of what it costs now. Maintenance would involve “raking” the surface every four to six weeks with specialized equipment that costs about $2,000. The turf would have a warranty of twelve years and a life of 12 to 15 years.
Updating the playing field to artificial turf would allow its use by more athletic teams and for more events. “This would include Clare High School Soccer and football and could be expanded to include other events and teams,” Punches said.
Other future goals for the group are to restore and update the track by resurfacing it so it can be used for Clare events and State-wide events too and to renovate the bleachers to provide safe seating, handicapped seating and enough seating for State tournaments and other large sporting events.
The release said, “The committee Pioneers are Leaders was formed because the community of Clare has always shown a willingness to do what is best for our kids. The original Brookwood Athletic Complex shows that Clare has been willing to set big goals and reach them. When Brookwood was built it was truly one of the best in the State at the time. Hopefully in the future it will be again.”
Earlier, Punches said, “”The Brookwood Athletic Complex was built in the late 1970’s by the Clare Community in a very difficult economic environment similar to today. It was decided by the community that we wanted one of the top athletic complexes in the state. With much effort, time and money, it was completed and our kids had a safe environment to compete in. But now, over 30 years later, it needs to be renovated and improved back to the original dream and to be one of the top complexes again. We need to be Pioneers again and Pioneers are Leaders.”
The committee includes: John Punches, Scott Moore, Kirk Yats, Kyle Camp, Rick Roe, Dick Roe, Bunny Punches, Carol Santini, Bryan Wiefrich, Diane Montini, Shelly Hensley, Barb Tyler, Doniel Pummell, Kelly Luplow, Lee Turner, Doug Haggart, Jeff Dice, John Green, Kyle Camp, Victoria Harper, Zack Tyler, Colton Punches, Adam Burhans and Doug Helmling.
High School Principal Lee Turner said in a February 1 Letter to the Editor, “The Clare community demonstrates in many ways that it is committed to being among the best examples of small town America. The Brookwood Complex is a fine athletic facility. Many districts envy what we have. The soccer field, the football field, and the track may be “good enough,” but the realization of Brookwood 2.0 will make the complex so much better. It will provide a better place for our student-athletes to compete, for our band to march, and for our fans to spectate.”
February 22, Head Football Coach and Health/Physical Fitness teacher Kelly Luplow wrote, “The football program strongly supports this project. We know that it will also be a huge showcase for our community and an attraction for families who want the best opportunities for their students when making a decision where to locate in the area. Who wouldn’t want to be part of such an awe-inspiring facility? In 1965, when I was 10 years old, my parents had to make a decision where to locate in this area due to a job situation. After searching around, they decided on Clare. Why? [Clare had] One of only two lighted little league fields in the state at the time. Parents still want their children to have the best opportunities possible and I’m quite certain that would be the case with Brookwood 2.0″
He continued, “Having coached football here for 32 years, I have seen the demise of our field over time. The drainage system, the turf, the grade of the field causing a huge crown in the middle and the strength of the soil has deteriorated. And with increased use, it is bound to get much worse in the coming years. We feel that it’s time to take it to the next level with a state of the art turf. This turf is as close to real grass as you can get. This field turf would
benefit the many programs that the school and community offer to the students of Clare Public Schools. Everyone could benefit from this project.”
In another letter in the Review March 22, School Superintendent Doniel Pummell wrote, “Clare knows how to ‘get things done!’ In addition, Clare loves and cares about the school and the kids. We are a proud and impressive community. I am offering my support to the Pioneers are Leaders Committee as they take on the Brookwood 2.0 Project. It is an awesome project with a BIG goal! However, if any town can make a dream such as this happen… it is our Clare.”
This year’s goal is to replace the field, but the money will have to be raised in a very short time to install the field this spring.
All donations to the Brookwood 2.0 project are tax deductible and will be held in a school account called Pioneer Development Fund which is a school fund that is used for projects like this.
The Pioneers are Leaders group is on Facebook and for more information or anyone wishing to help can email