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Citizens for a New Athletic Stadium helped build Forest Grove athletics a new home in the '80s

Photo Credit: NEWS-TIMES FILE PHOTO - Carl Heisler (left) and Tim Schauermann pose in front of the stadium that was completed at Forest Grove High School in 1984. Heisler was committee president and Schauermann was construction manager of Citizens for a New Athletic Stadium, a community group that was integral in the fundraising and construction of the stadium.It takes a village to raise a child, the adage goes. It also, at least in the case of Forest Grove, takes one to build a stadium.

Area old-timers likely recall that once upon a time, the Forest Grove High School athletics landscape — its very field of view — looked much different than it does in present day, when Viking football and soccer teams play on a quality artificial turf field just west of the high school while family and friends watch from covered stadium stands.

But even 35 years ago or so, the football team shipped over to Pacific’s McCready Stadium every game — at a cost of both time and money. Soccer games were contested on an open grass field near the school with small stands. The teams did not have a true home of their own.

So the good people of Forest Grove built one for them.

“That was the drive, so we could have our own stadium and not have to go to Pacific and basically get on the bus and travel each time we wanted to play a game,” recalled Carl Heisler, a chairman on the committee that led the drive to build what is now known as Dick Hendricks Stadium. “We wanted to have one.”

In acknowledgment of the work contributed by Citizens for a New Athletic Stadium — which spearheaded the project — the group is being inducted in this year’s class of the school’s Athletic Hall of Fame.

Four former athletes and a former coach also make up the class, the school’s fifth. The new inductees will be recognized at halftime of Forest Grove’s home football game against North Salem on Oct. 3 and will be formally inducted the following day at a banquet at Pumpkin Ridge Golf Club.

Jerry Frye, the former owner of Frye’s Action Athletics and another committee chair, was tickled at the prospect of becoming a member of the school’s Hall of Fame.

“We weren’t doing it for recognition,” he noted about building the stadium. “We were doing it because we enjoyed the community and saw the need. We knew friends and people that wanted to do the same thing.”

So that is exactly what the group did. The entire project took roughly two presidential terms, included the labor of hundreds of volunteers and finished with a dramatic conclusion ahead of its first event.

The committee commenced the project in 1977. Originally, the moniker “Stadium by ‘80” — in reference to the goal of completing the stadium by 1980 — was used, but that year came and went before construction even started, and the committee eventually became known as Citizens for a New Athletic Stadium.

The bulk of the early years was spent fundraising, as the group needed to generate enough money to get the project off the ground. Heisler and Frye played prominent roles in that aspect in particular. They cosigned a $75,000 note at what was then Forest Grove National Bank to purchase the kit that would make up the stadium — the seats and stairs.

And the citizens staged fundraisers — many, many fundraisers. Much of that was organized out of Frye’s store. He and others sold season ticket packages for the Viking football team, with the funds going toward the stadium project.

Other fundraisers included spaghetti feeds, an annual jog-a-thon and music concerts.

All that fundraising was necessary because the school district could not foot the roughly $300,000 needed to build the high school a stadium. But the citizens could build it, Heisler recalled, if they didn’t double back and ask the school district for money partway through.

While fundraising was occurring, so was the debate about where to put the stadium. The high school used to be located at what is now Tom MCall Upper Elementary School, and even in a late 1979 school board meeting, discussion took place about whether to situate the stadium at the old high school site or the new one.

The new school site won out, of course, and the committee started the first stages of construction in about 1981 or 1982, according to Frye’s recollection. That is where Tim Schauermann, the project construction manager, came in, after Heisler asked if he would organize that facet.

Schauermann, who graduated from Forest Grove a year after Heisler in the early 1960s, turned out to be the perfect man for the job. He had studied a little engineering at Oregon State before graduating with a math degree from Pacific and working for seven years for Boeing as what that company dubbed an engineer.

And during the building phase of the project, he operated an insurance agency in town, one that happened to insure a bevy of small-size contractors.

Schauermann put those relationships to work, asking those contractors to donate equipment, materials and labor when their expertise was needed at various stages in the construction, with the contractors telling him what they could provide. Often, labor took place after hours or on weekends, with Schauermann rounding up as many volunteers as he could to provide what he termed “grunt labor.”

“That’s kind of how it went,” Schauermann said about his negotiations. “At times we had to pay for things when somebody would say, ‘I just can’t give that big a donation, but I can do this.’ In some of the jobs where it was primarily equipment and labor, we truly got everything donated.”

To this day, Schauermann still recalls many of the key details of the construction:

• Grimmett Excavating used its backhoe to dig the massive footings that back the stadium and hold up its posts.

• Volunteers then helped install the rebar.

• Van Doren Red-E-Mix donated materials at cost and Marty Russell and a crew from Kidd Concrete donated a Saturday to pour the “truckloads” of concrete that make up the footings and front wall of the stadium.

• Steel I-beams were installed by a crew from Forest Grove Iron, owned by Wayne Bostad at the time, who let the group use his company’s trucks, equipment, welders and materials to put together the stadium’s superstructure. That crew came over after their work days ended, staying until dark for their contribution.

• Jim Craig, a crane owner and operator, brought his crane to lift the I-beams into place, and then a group climbed up on the beams to put the bolts in. Andy Magner from Miracle Signs was indeed a miracle on this phase of the project. He had worked in high-rise construction for a considerable time in a previous life, so he had no problem traversing 6-inch beams located some 35 feet off the ground.

• Dozens of volunteers, including the parents of athletes, spent a Saturday bolting the seats into place, and then the roof was installed, mainly by volunteers, and restrooms were built.

• The finishing touch was the lighting system, installed by Forest Grove Power & Light and Brabham Electric.

“I can’t say enough about this community and how the community gets behind a project,” Frye said. “There have been many other examples of that kind of cooperation here.”

All of that construction took place over multiple years and was completed just in the nick of time. The lights were ready to go about three hours before the Viking football team’s home opener against Sunset on Sept. 14, 1984.

“We turned them on I think at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, and they didn’t go off,” Heisler said. “We just left them on to make sure the game got through and then we’d find out if we could turn them off and turn them back on.”

In all, the tab came to $125,000 to build the stadium, with the school district paying for the lights only. The rest came from the people. Help even came from businessmen such as Merle Bryan, then the Forest Grove National Bank president, who all raised funds to pay off the rest of the bank note.

Heisler, a former longtime referee, helped christen the new facility by serving as an official for that football game against the Apollos. He, Frye and Schauermann all had children who played high school games at the stadium. Thousands of other Vikings have graced that field in the ensuing years since that first football game, playing in front of loved ones in a stadium of their own.

Given that, another adage seems appropriate in regard to this stadium story: If you build it, they will come.

Thirty years later, they still do.

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