Improvements to the Thomas DiCenzo Athletic Complex in Calais have been ongoing over the past year, and several more additions are still in the pipeline. The flurry of upgrades have resulted from the coordinated efforts of students at Washington County Community College, St. Croix Regional Technical Center, and the Calais High School, all under the guidance of their respective faculty members.
During the summer, buildings in the complex had their siding replaced and/or painted in a uniform blue color, the fences surrounding the ballfields were capped, shelters for the trashcans were constructed and installed, and new benches were added to the dugouts, among many other minor improvements. WCCC drafting instructor Randy McCormick, who originally helped to organize the construction of the skate park, said that involving students in the projects goes a long way toward creating a sense of responsibility and ownership of the complex and its components.
After the fall semester resumed, the students enrolled in the building construction program at WCCC began working at installing a new metal roof for one of the dugouts. The roof was completed in early October, contributing that much more to the professional presentation the complex has rapidly been attaining.
Despite the exceptional enthusiasm and efforts that the students have shown in restoring and upgrading the complex, small issues with vandalism have been continuing. McCormick said that one of the trashcan shelters had been damaged on one side, but that it would soon be repaired with shiplap boards. A few shingles that were taken off the side of one of the buildings have already been replaced, and a trim will be added to deter such damage in the future.
The springtime will see the completion and installation of two more projects, according to McCormick. Three benches will be built as part of a joint collaboration; the Calais Recreation Department has provided funds for the metal that students at SCRTC will weld into frames that the CHS technology education students will then add a cedar framework onto. Also in the works is a 20 by 20 foot pavilion that will go in the center of the complex following its construction by the SCRTC and WCCC building construction programs. Funds are still being raised for the pavilion, which has an estimated cost of $2,300. Of that figure, the St. Croix Masonic Lodge has agreed to donate $1,500.
The improvements to the Athletic Complex are clearly an important investment in an area that deeply values its sports and recreational programs. At the same time, students are effectively enriched by being able to participate in real-world projects that have an immediate and lasting impact on a keystone fixture in the community.