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Highlands seeks grant to improve recreational facilities

Many of the recreational facilities in the Highlands School District are archaic and badly in need of improvement.

Two examples can be seen with the playground equipment near Citizens Hose in Harrison (the old Birdville Elementary School), which is old and rusty, and the basketball court along Brackenridge Avenue, in Brackenridge, which is badly in need of resurfacing.

So Highlands School District officials, in an effort to create better facilities for the community, are fishing for grant money to do a study on how the school district can help improve facilities in the district’s four communities.

District Superintendent Randall Kahler and school board member Karen Wantland said they are hoping to get $25,000 in state and federal money to do a feasibility study on what needs to be done. The district would have to match the grant, but that can be done with money or services rendered.

Wantland is a member of the school board’s community outreach committee, which is in charge of the project.

The district must first get support from Fawn, Harrison, Tarentum and Brackenridge. Wantland said three of the municipalities have already pledged their support. She was unaware when Fawn officials would vote on the plan. The grant application must be submitted by the middle of October, Wantland said.

Kahler said all municipalities must be on board before it can be processed since many of the facilities are owned by the municipalities. Both Wantland and Kahler said talks are very preliminary and they aren’t sure if the money has to go to existing facilities, or if it can go toward new projects, as well.

“Highlands School District has decided to take the lead in this,” he said.

The superintendent said this type of endeavor hasn’t been attempted since he arrived in the district 14 years ago.

Wantland said she believes it’s a chance for the district and the community to get something done and work together.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to get a lot of money with very little expense to the district,” Wantland said.

District officials will get together with representatives from the four municipalities to determine their plans if the grant is received, Wantland said.

Wantland said the school district should take the lead in the initiative because school districts are the number one magnet in any community.

“We need places for people to have quality time together,” she said.

Tarentum Councilwoman Ginger Sopcak said she’s very much in favor of the district going after the grant money.

“We support restoring all the playground facilities,” she said. “If you give the kids something to do, they stand a better chance of not getting into trouble.”


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