Watchtower Offers Huge Donation ($136,000) of "Field" Assistance? Why?

by Gayle 26 Replies latest social current

  • Gayle

    Watchtower Offers Huge Donation of "Field" Assistance By Chris Rowley

    PINE BUSH – A startling offer from Watchtower, the Jehovah's Witnesses' organization centered on Red Mills Road, worth about $136,000, has the Pine Bush Central School District scrambling to see if it can take advantage of the offer.

    At the School Board meeting on Tuesday, September 14, Tom Walraven, Physical Education Teacher and Varsity Baseball Coach, presented a plan to the board for repairing the E.J.Russell Field. The problems with the field are long standing and have been growing worse. The southern side of the field is uneven and drains poorly. A tree situated by the soccer field has grown large over the years. Its roots have infiltrated the drainage pipes under the field. Every year the ground staff has to clear the drains with a plumbing snake because the ground near the tree is wet and the grass grows tall.

    "The field is used by Crispell and E.J. Russell for physical education," said Walraven, "as well as by the Varsity Girls Soccer team, and the Varsity Baseball team. In addition, there are community members using it in the fall and the spring."

    "The surface on the southern end has six areas of concern, with depressions several inches deep ranging from two to four feet wide."

    "In addition," said Walraven. "There is a 27 inch drop from the infield of the baseball diamond to the beginning of the playground. This drop has increased in the last few years due to the field being rolled for baseball."

    Walraven said that Gary Rich, a surveyor and an alumnus of Pine Bush schools and current Varsity Wrestling Coach, had donated a professional plan for remedying the situation.

    "It started with the 2007 Alumni baseball game," said Walraven. "Seventy players came back, and out of that a group of community members came forward who volunteered their time for improvements to the field. We tried to get this into the EXCEL program, but it wasn't eligible for that funding."

    "Then the Watchtower Community was contacted and they offered us the use of heavy equipment for a week or so."

    The plan involves removing the tree and grinding the stump. Bringing in 1,000 cubic yards of fill and topsoil, and contouring it to both even out the current drop from west to east, and improve passive drainage to the south where the currently installed subsurface drains flow into a ditch. With the tree removed, Walraven believes the drainage will improve.

    Walraven noted that "the use of Watchtower's equipment is a potential donation worth about $136,000. So, compared with that, the rest is much less."

    The catch in all this is that Watchtower's assistance is for the last week of September. That gives the School District very little time to pull the rest of this together.

    Roseanne Sullivan, President of the Board, said, "I know we have problems with other fields, but we have to get started somewhere, and this seems like a good place to start. People are getting very creative here."

    However, she also noted that the cost of the fill, and the cost of moving it, would be a sticking point. Walraven provided an estimate of $20,000. However, that was a figure derived from topsoil costs, not for cheaper fill.

    Superintendent Phil Steinberg said, "I'm game. I walked the baseball field with Tom, and you can see this drop as you go out past second base. Somebody could hurt themselves, running out there, looking backwards for a fly ball."

    John Anthony, Vice-President of the Board, said, "The south end of the field is a health and safety issue, and we're liable. We do have a problem with that field and we have to come up with something."

    Bob Garloch, Operation & Maintenance chief for the District, said, "We have fill material. There's a pile of it at Circleville Middle School. We'd have to get a SPEDS permit (State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System). That material is pretty stoney, you'd have to screen it."

    Eric Meier, Board Member, observed that "time is the issue here. Can this be organized by the end of the month?"

    Roseanne Sullivan said, "We will have to hold a special meeting of the board to approve this, because our next regular meeting isn't until September 28."

    Tom Walraven added, "The seeding season for grass ends this month, too."

    Phil Steinberg said that he and Walraven would meet and see if this great offer from Watchtower could be taken up immediately.

    "If we don't have answers for some of these things, then we'll have to put it off until next summer. But, clearly, it would be best if we could get this done right away," he said.


    Friday, September 17 - 1:20AM
    Why is the Watchtower doing this?
    Sounds like a nice thing to do, however, the Watchtower as an organization by far doesn't usually do charitable works, especially fixing up for schools. Is the problem affecting the Watchtower properties in Pine Bush or Wallkill? Or are they doing it for their local image? Their membership are to have the door-to-door work as utmost priority, usually to the exclusion of any needed fundamental charity. Their children are discouraged to get involved in extracurricular sports. This sort of thing is not their normal thing to do. They have taught for 130 yrs the only "field" of concern to them is their "field service (door to door)." Would they allow the local congregations to get in, organize and fix up and contribute to a local school or for some valid charity? I know not.
  • baltar447

    Bragging rights?

  • Black Sheep
    Black Sheep

    This is one of those rare occasions when the WT has offered something useful to a community and I hope that ex's don't go stupid with their comments and portray themselves as bitter and twisted.

  • Heartofaboy

    Very rare indeed.

    It's good to hear about them getting involved with a local project.

  • cameo-d

    The worm turns?

    This is one gift horse I would not accept without looking in it's mouth. It's got lots of teeth in there, we just can't see them till we pry the jaws apart.

  • blondie

    The WTS has done things to keep good relations with the local government; re EMT, fire fighting equipment and volunteers, sewage system, etc.

    This is a poor county and it keeps things on a good balance for approval of future building products.

  • CuriousButterfly

    Ditto to what Blondie said. Also, they may be wanting "something" a variance or permit for building or selling a property.

  • DaCheech

    i'm with blondie and curiousbutterfly

  • carvin

    This was an offer from the local congrgation,ie regular people many of whom probably have children that would benefit from the improvement. Also lending them the equipment that wouldotherwise sit idol is not a great expence. No real money would be leaving the WT coffers but you can bet your sweet bottom that they will make it seem like the largest of all sacrfices for years to come.

  • OnTheWayOut

    I like to suspect WT of always always always doing things for their own interests only.
    But I generally give the individual members the benefit of a doubt. Sure, they want to become an accepted entity, sort of a mainstream religion.
    This is something that could help with that.

    But it sounds more like a good gesture. Renting the equipment or a crew or whatever would be $136,000 but it doesn't cost them that much for the use of their equipment.

    Still, don't be surprised if they are simply working on their image so that New York State eases up on the laws about "benefits" to volunteers. I give a rattlesnake the benefit of the doubt that he is just warning me with that rattle, but I don't stick my hand in his face.

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