Grants are on track. Imbler track construction hits one third of needed funds

By on Friday, February 16th, 2024 in More Top Stories Northeastern Oregon News

IMBLER – Imbler’s new track may soon evolve from jumping through metaphorical hurdles of financing to having students physically jump hurdles on eight brand new lanes. In less than a year, fundraising efforts and grant applications have acquired one third of the project’s total needed funds, with the momentum showing no signs of slowing.

For those unfamiliar, the Imbler Track & Field Community Project is an effort by the Imbler School District community to raise the money for a brand new eight-lane rubberized track, and accompanying lighting system, to replace the school’s current dirt one. If completed, not only would the new track cut down on injuries and shin splints, it would also allow Imbler to host proper track meets as well as provide proper outdoor lighting for any event making use of the field. 

In total, the project requires $1,290,000 to cover all construction and design costs. According to Ian Gordon, Chairman of the Imbler Track Committee, a total of $459,000 have been raised as of February 13, slightly over a third of the total needed funds. This impressive budget is thanks to a combination of generous community donations and a rapidly growing list of grants. During the week of February 12 alone, the project announced no less than three separate grants for a combined total of $50,000, these being from the Woodgrain Foundation ($10,000), The Wildhorse Foundation ($30,000), and the Portland Trail Blazers ($10,000). Reflecting on the recent success, Gordon Commented,

“It’s great, we’re overall very happy that our grants are being accepted so far. So far, of the ones we’ve applied for, we’ve only heard no on one of them. We’ve got a good truck record there. Thanks to Russ West and Candy Benjamin who’ve been doing most of the applications for us.”

While the committee had confidence going into the project, the rapid pace of recent grants has been something of a surprise. According to Gordon, grant consultants the committee has spoken to have been impressed with both the number of grants and prestige of some of the grant providers. The prestige of these grant providers, in theory, boosts the project even further, opening access to even more grants. As stated by Gordon:

“What I heard recently from one of these folks is that, not only are we raising the money quickly, but we’re also getting some of these very public and well-known organizations like the Ford Family Foundation and the Portland Trail Blazers donating money to us and it encourages other potential donors to take a hard look at us.”

It should also be noted that the eight-lane track is only one of two proposals, with a smaller six lane track also being considered. Though providing less space, this six-lane design is a bit cheaper and would still allow for formal track meets. If the committee decides to move forward with the six-lane design instead, then currently raised funds actually constitute half of the needed total. While there is no formal timeline for construction to begin at this point, Gordon speculates that work could start during summer of 2025 if the current pace of funding continues.

As for what’s next, various other grants are in the works. The committee is also still trying to garner support from some of the local and more well-established families in Imbler and Summerville. For anyone else that would like to support the project, donations are always welcome, and a Gala Dinner has been scheduled for May 4th, 2024. This dinner will include an auction of various outdoor and hunting related items, ranging from outdoor tools to even a vacation rental.

Donation opportunities, Gala tickets, progress updates, testimonials from those involved, and renderings of the completed track can all be found online: