Building hoops in Barrow
The Rotary Club of Barrow-Nuvuk marked 25 years in style last week, donating $1,000 for every year they've been operating - and then some.
The club presented Barrow Mayor Bob Harcharek with a $25,000 check last Wednesday at Pepe's, all destined for the full-sized outdoor basketball court under construction in Browerville.
Mayor Harcharek said the donation was generous, to say the least.
"It blew me away," Harcharek said. "That is without a doubt the largest cash donation we've received."
The city is looking to raise another $100,000, said club president Sandy Solenberger. The hope is that corporations and organizations working in the region will follow the club's example and donate.
The waterproof outdoor court, which will likely be completed in early summer, is a project aimed at getting Barrow outside. The significant donation from the Rotary Club is a reflection of the importance of this particular project, Harcharek said.
"They wanted to give it to us because we're so involved in getting our youth active and involved," Harcharek said.
When the sun and the temperatures are up, Harcharek said, people want to get out. The court offers another option for all ages to get outdoors and moving.
"It (will) be a great way to get young adults or older teens outside and playing something worthwhile and constructive," he said.
While the city has some outdoor courts, there's nothing that can compare to the high-quality wooden court.
"Quite often the basketball courts are filled with water or mud as it drains," Harcharek said. "They have a basketball hoop on them, and most of the time it's just in the dirt, there's no place to play really competitive games."
Barrow High School student Kevin Goodwin plans to make ready use of the new court.
"I think for our community it will be great," the 15-year-old freshman said. "From young kids to older people, it will be a good thing for them."
Especially since it's connected to the Browerville park, he said, people can come out for games and barbecues, and it will be easier for elders to gather and watch pick-up games.
"This community is nothing but basketball," said Goodwin, who started playing basketball at age 5.
It'll give more than just the competitive teams a nice space to play, he said.
"That court, it won't just be for the tournament, it will be for the community."
Construction started last year, with materials, shipping, and labor donated at cost from Baker Construction, Spenard Builder's Supply, and Northern Air Cargo.
ASRC donated $2,000.
The city doesn't have a tax base like the North Slope Borough, Harcharek said, so most of their projects are funded through grants and donation.
When all's said and done, the court will cost about $145,000, Harcharek said. The space includes a subfloor and finished, waterproof court, as well as six hoops. Thus far more than 30 workers have put time and energy into construction.
"It should last easily 30, 35 years," Harcharek said. "(It's) really substantial. In the past, on one of our playgrounds we have basically a wood platform, but it doesn't have the integrity for bouncing balls. This should be of the quality that you could play a regulation high school game on."
City Recreation Director Mike Mason will be scheduling games and tournaments there this summer, and the rest of the time it will be open to the public.
"We want to generate a healthy community," Mason said. "We wanted to create something outside for kids in the summer time."
The Rotary Club supports a number of local and Slope-wide efforts, many of which were recognized at the anniversary event.
"The informal theme of the evening was 'Working together, we can get it done,'" said Solenberger. "The event began with a celebration of the corporations, nonprofits and individuals who work with us each year to do good, locally and around the world."
The club often has helpers from the Barrow High School Band, Solenberger said, who assist with the set up and clean up of the club carnival every year. In recognition of that service, the Rotary Club donated $2,000 toward the band's upcoming to trip to Washington, D.C. in April.
"The club's oldest activity is its carnival," Solenberger said, "which has grown into the largest family event held in Barrow each year?This year's carnival was our 24th? It takes about 120 volunteers to organize and run and they come from all over the community."
Another $2,000 donation went to the Rotary Foundation's Polio Plus campaign, a gift made in honor of Pepe's owner Fran Tate, who was unable to join the celebration Saturday.
Hannah Heimbuch can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.