Thank you Oakwood!  (Long Post Warning!)

Tonight is the night! Homecoming, and the opening of our new athletic facilities!  Thank you Oakwood!!!!   I feel the need to sing the praises of our Oakwood Community, our Parents, Volunteers, School Board members, City and County officials, our teachers and staff members, and our students.  And a special thank you to the workers who have helped to build a very beautiful football field and track that we can all be proud of.

This process started before I arrived at Oakwood, with the Board looking to continue to improve the facilities.  The new Elementary had been built and the Board was interested in tackling the next priority need for the school, which turned out to be the need for a track and football field.  Over the next several months, after consulting with numerous sports facility builders, Oakwood ISD called for a Bond election to build the new football field and track, renovate the auditorium, update and expand the Ag shop, and to improve technology throughout the district.  After a slight delay in holding the election due to Covid, the community overwhelmingly supported the Bond election in May 2021 with more than an 85% passing rate, a true testament to the community’s willingness to help make Oakwood the best it can be.  We would not be able to improve our facilities without our community’s support, so we thank you!

The design phase and bid process phase took almost a year due to the crazy market conditions and every fluctuating prices.  This part of the process caused many design revisions, reductions, and compromises in order for us to be able to afford to build the project that we promised voters.  Even after all of the reductions, and design changes, the project still came in priced much, much high than it had been when we initially received cost estimated from the builders.  The Board met and made decisions on how best to proceed and we cut costs at every corner, trying to save as much money as possible.  In the end, we have been able to stretch the budget and get the project close to being finished.  There are still some outstanding phases of construction that will be finished in the coming months which include pouring the track surface over the asphalt that is currently down.  That should occur sometime in November.  We will be building a small building for the locker rooms, restrooms, and concession stand in the coming months as well.  We hope to have the exterior shell and foundation of the building complete by February.  Finishing out the interior of the building will then occur over the following several months as funds become available.

So that is where we are at currently.  I am so very excited about the progress that we have made and that our seniors get a chance to run out on that new field for their senior season!  What a way to celebrate homecoming.

A very special thank you to the following people:

The Oakwood Panther Community:  Without your support, none of this is possible.

The Oakwood ISD School Board:  Mack Botard, Corbin Pettiette, Dave Bellow, Jason Milligan, Terry Johnson, Derek Lancaster, and Mike Thomason.  You guys have gone above and beyond to get this project started and to see it through.  Thank you for all of your hard work, and the countless number of hours that you have volunteered working on this project.

Joey &  Michelle Stanford and Doug Neel:  You guys have been such a tremendous help in literally every aspect of this project.  Thank you for your diligence, dedication, and impeccable work.

Freestone County and Lloyd Lane:  Your help and support of the school by improving the road and access to the field has be invaluable.  Thank you so much for helping our school!

Tommy Reese and the City of Oakwood:  Thank you so much for helping us with our infrastructure needs!  It has saved the district a considerable amount of money and it is much appreciated!

Oncor Electric:  For working diligently with a tight timeline to get power to our site.  We were cutting it close, but we got it done.

Symmetry Sports Construction:  For being such a world class organization and building us a beautiful project!  The best sports facility construction company out there!  First class from start to finish!

Musco Lighting:  Thank you for the beautiful stadium lights that look amazing!

Sturdisteel Bleachers: We are excited about breaking the bleachers in tonight.  They look great and we appreciate your work in getting them to us and installed even with the supply chain issues.

I am sure there are many that have been left out, including all of the employees of Oakwood ISD that have worked on a number of parts and pieces of this project over that last year.  Just know that I thank you and appreciate each and every one of you!

Proud to be a Panther!

Russell Holden