KCSD to host groundbreaking of Track & Field renovation

The community is invited by the Keokuk Community School District to the groundbreaking of the Track & Field at Calvert Stadium at 4 p.m. on Monday, April 22. 

“This is an investment in our district athletics and activities, as well as in our students and community as a whole and will make a lasting impact for years to come,” Dr. Kathy Dinger, KCSD superintendent, said. “As a graduate of the high school with memories of the track and field, I’m happy that we can update and improve the facility while honoring the past.”

KCSD plans to honor the history of the Jim Kersten Track & Jim Vandenberg Field, which were named in 2021 in honor of the longtime coaches at Keokuk High School. However the facility will be updated with modern functionality to make it a community gathering place based on phase one of a two phase renovation plan. Phase one of the plan was approved by the Keokuk School Board in September 2023.

The improvements will include the replacement of the existing track, which would remain a six-lane track with an eight-lane 100 meter section and the track and field event stations will be replaced, along with a turf field will replace the existing grass field for football and soccer, and execution of a drainage improvement plan. 

An additional benefit of replacing the field with turf is the ability to allow the entire community to utilize the field for events.

“This project will be a source of great pride for our school and our community. The commitment from the school board and school leadership to provide enhancements for our students to help them excel is greatly appreciated,” Summers said. “Once completed the stadium will be able to provide more access and opportunity for our students, athletes, and performers as well as more flexibility to allow our community groups to have access when available. This project is another reason that we are proud to be a Chief.

The name of the Track & Field will remain the same. The track is named after Kenneth James “Jim” Kersten, who taught Science and coached track, football and wrestling at KHS and was a 25 Year Award Winner from the Iowa Track Coaches Association in 1993 for coaching in Iowa for 25 years. Kersten passed away in October of 2020. The football field is named in honor of Lewis James “Jim” Vandenberg, who was a former football and track coach at KHS and was a 25 Year Award Winner from the Iowa Track Coaches Association in 1999 for coaching in Iowa for 25 years. Vandenberg passed away in October of 2023.

The track and field improvements are a part of the first phase of a planned two phase renovation of Calvert Stadium that will remain within the current footprint. The need for renovations were identified by the school community as a priority from a survey conducted in the spring of 2023. Klingner and Associates PC will complete the project.

Bidding on phase one of the project occurred in January and this phase of the project will conclude in September 2024. The proposed cost for an artificial turf football field that would include drainage is $1,514,550, and the proposed cost to replace the track is $1,513,184. An Athletic Facility Public Hearing and Financing Public Hearing were held in September 2023 to approve the use of the school infrastructure sales, services and use tax revenues for the proposed athletic facility infrastructure project, that would not exceed $4,000,000 in cost. The funds are in the State Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) Fund and distributed to the School District pursuant to Section 423F.2 of the Iowa Code. The use of SAVE Funds does not increase the District’s tax rate.

There will be further discussions on when phase two of the project will begin in Fall of 2024.