During the past few months, the Perry community has heard about the renovation of Dewey Field at Perry High School. The Perry Kiwanis Club learned the latest about the project when Perry Community School District Superintendent Clark Wicks and Perry Community School District Director of Student Activities Tom Lipovac stopped by the Tuesday noon luncheon meeting to discuss the project.
Lipovac shared some of the history of Dewey Field, starting with the 1961 naming of the football field after longtime groundskeeper Ralph Dewey, who began working for the Perry Schools in 1936.
Lipovac said Dewey Field replaced the former high school field, nicknamed the Rock Pile, which was located on the site of the former high school and later middle school and where the Hamlin Bell Apartments now stand on Willis Avenue at 10 Street. Old timers claim the Rock Pile was full of rocks and very rough to play on, hence its nickname.
The Jim Kaufman Track, which encircles Dewey Field, was named after former Perry teacher Jim Kaufman, who died at the age of 49 while jogging on the track that now bears his name in memorial. The current track was dedicated in 1996.
The Harold Bailey press box was dedicated in 2008 in honor of longtime Perry Daily Chief sports writer Harold Bailey, who covered high school sports and Little League for many decades and was a much loved figure in his rumpled sports coats. Lipovac said everyone in the Iowa High School sports community knew who you were talking about if you mentioned the name Harold.
In 2017, after the death of local factory owner Dallas “Pete” VanKirk, his family donated $350,000 to make improvements to the current athletic complex where Pete had been a coach for several years with the high school football team.
One stipulation of the donation was that the home crowd and team will be on the north side of the field. Lipovac said that for some odd reason the home team was placed on the south side of the field, which is the opposite of what every other team does. It may have had to do with the parking across the street, Lipovas speculated.
He said the field is used by the football team, marching band, vocational tech classes and soccer teams.
Wicks then outlined the reasons why the community should support the Dewey Field upgrades. He said he and Lipovas will be visiting every civic group and any other groups in order to garner financial support for the $3.3 million project.
It was asked by the Kiwanis members if there were any listing of Perry alumni to contact. Wicks stated that the school did not have any listing of graduates. He said a big way that alumni have kept connected themselves to what is going on in Perry is by reading ThePerryNews.com, where Sports Editor Jeff Webster provides on-scene coverage of PHS sports in the tradition of harold Bailey.
Wicks also said it will be important to make contact with the leaders of class reunions, who will be able to get the message out to alumni by social media.
Lipovac and Wicks said there will be four phases to the Dewey Field renovation project. There is a story by Webster on ThePerryNews.com that goes into greater detail of this project.
Phase one will cost $1.1 million. Phase two will cost $300,000, with phase three totalling $850,000 and phase four coming in at $1.2 million. The total for the project is $3.45 million.
The initial phase will involve moving the home team bleachers and benches to the north side, putting an entrance on the northeast side across from 18th Street and building new concession stands and new restrooms. The other three phases contain other renovations and improvements, including artificial turf for Dewey Field itself.
Wicks said they are looking for 1,000 people or organizations to donate $250 each to the project. This project is entitled 1,000 Bluejays, and they hope to raise $250,000 to use toward phase one. The VanKirks have offered to match with another $75,000 if the community raises $250,000.
Larger donation levels will also be recognized, and all donations will be recognized on the donation wall.
A $25,000 donation is entitled End Zone Legacy, $10,000 Golden Goal Sponsor, $5,000 Finish Line Sponsor and $1,000 Yard Line Sponsor.
For more information, contact Tom Lipovac at 515-465-8336 or TomLipovac@perry.k.12.ia.us.