A team community effort will build a new all-sports training facility for the Paris Independent Schools, local leaders announced Friday.
Construction of the new 4,500-square-foot facility on the district’s athletic field will begin this year and might be finished before year’s end, said Superintendent Gary Wiseman. The district, which marked its 150th anniversary in September, has 682 students in kindergarten through high school.
“It’s going to be for training for all sports,” Wiseman said. “There will be weight machines. It’s not just for football; it will be geared for all of our athletics.”
The project was possible through a $250,000 gift from the Hunt Brothers Pizza Family Foundation. The company has a distribution center in Paris that is led by co-CEO Erin Hunt Ferguson, a 1991 graduate of Paris High School.
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Ferguson signed a large ceremonial check during a pep-rally-like ceremony in the Earl Redwine Gymnasium.
“Coming back into the community as a business leader, I noticed there was an opportunity to give back,” Ferguson said. She said her father, Jim Stocker Hunt, supported the idea to donate money for the new building before he died in January.
“These kids deserve the best,” Ferguson said before the ceremony. “They’re each designed for a purpose, for excellence, and we want to be a part of that. That’s what alumni do.”
Other local companies, such as Judy Construction, Hinkle Block and Masonry, Hinkle Contracting Co., Back Construction and others are donating labor and materials or offering generous discounts, said Bill Alverson of the Paris Greyhound Football Foundation. About an additional $100,000 is needed for the $550,000 fundraising goal, but Alverson expressed optimism that the money will be forthcoming.
Wiseman said the school district, which is paying for $17,000 in architectural fees, would not have been able to afford the project without private donations.
James Clark, 18, who plays football and basketball and runs track, will graduate from Paris Independent High this year. But he said he is glad for the younger students who will use the new building.
“I’m going to come back and use it, though,” Clark said.