Chamber President Charlotte Goodwin welcomed the crowd and announced the newest members were The Highland Ladies of the Elks.
Brogdon addressed attendees about the upcoming and much anticipated opening of the Highland Activity Center and potential stimulus spending by the school district. He said the rain has caused problems with paving the parking lots. Atlas Asphalt of Batesville has the lots ready to pave and Brogdon said he hoped the rain would hold off allowing them three days to complete the paving.
Brogdon explained the main entry will be on the upper level. He said to clear up any rumors or discrepancies the public might have, "There is a walking track. When I tell people we are going to have something, that is what we are going to have." The track is on the upper level of the center, allowing those who are walking to look down into the court area which runs in a north to south direction from the highway toward Rebel Drive. He said he is very proud of the new facility and said the floor is, "tremendous." Included in the new activity center, which was named after late Highland School Superintendent A.L. Hudson, is a hospitality room, therapy room and a weight room in addition to the locker rooms and court. The superintendent said he has been in numerous gyms throughout the state and said Highland's new facility was as nice as any of those and was something for which the school should be very proud of for generations.
Brogdon said the basketball teams will begin their practices in the new facility Oct. 25. An open house is scheduled for the public Nov. 8 at 2 p.m. Brogdon said when he asked Danny Lusk, son-in-law of the late A.L. Hudson, what Hudson would think of the facility, Lusk said, "He would probably say, 'Wow.'"
Brogdon said the first event besides regular games set for the A.L. Hudson Memorial Center is The Highland Classic, an invitation based series of basketball games designed to bring schools from all over the state to the new facility. The Classic will be held Nov. 9-14 with a total of 21 different schools being represented in the event. Brogdon said he hopes to fill the center for the event. The 2,140 seat arena replaces the Highland High School gymnasium which seated 672.
Chad Arnhart, Highland boy's basketball coach spoke to chamber members about his hopes for the upcoming season and said the team had only had two losing seasons since 1978. He said his top seven players are back for the 2009-10 season and their experience should help make the season successful.
Highland girl's basketball coach Harland Davis also addressed the crowd about his expectations for the upcoming season as well as the pride the team has regarding the new facility. Davis said 2008-09 was a very successful season for the girls and said that 8 of the last 9 years the team has played in the district championships and said the Lady Rebels have a very great record of 221 wins and 66 losses since 2000. Davis gave a lot of credit for the success of the girl's basketball program to his predecessors including former coach Thendall Hill.
Davis also told the group that this year he had the youngest junior girl's team he has ever coached. He said he had only four 9th graders and eight 8th graders as well as a 7th grader. Davis, who has coached 16 years at Highland recalled coaching at Evening Shade when the school opened the Burt Reynolds/Thomason gym in the late 1980s from the sale of $750,000 in Evening Shade cookbooks. Davis compared the pride the students at Evening Shade had in their gymnasium to the pride the students at Highland will inevitably have in their new facility. Davis said the new center will be a source of not only pride for the school, but also a means of economic development for the community and surrounding area. He said if 1,000 people attend the Highland Classic, and each spend $20 in gas, food, motels or other things each night of the event, this single event will generate $120,000 for the local economy.
Following the coaches presentations, Brogdon again took the floor and addressed the Highland School District's spending of $2.7 million in stimulus money.
Brogdon said he had mixed emotions about the money, although it is obviously much needed and he was proud to receive the funds. He said he was concerned about how it would be paid back over the years.
The superintendent said the main things the money would be spent on include construction and technology. The school has already purchased interactive smart boards for the classrooms as well as projectors and mobile labs with 30 computers each. He said, "You can't spend enough in technology, it is the wave of the future." The school district has also used some of the stimulus money to purchase a new handicap bus.
Other than items already purchased, Brogdon told of future plans for projects to utilize the funds. He said an architect has already drawn up plans for a state-of-the-art stand-alone science laboratory for the high school. The lab will allow students to work on hands-on projects to better prepare them for the future and college requirements. Brogdon said one day a week in this lab for nine weeks will satisfy the state mandated standards for science.
In addition, the school is also installing seamless metal roofing on the agriculture building, the only building on campus that currently does not have this type of roofing. A point of source (POS) ventilation system will also be installed in the vo-ag building. Brogdon said this system will vacuum harmful fumes emitted during welding out of the building. He said welding and agricultural based careers are something that many students in the district have chosen and many have went to welding school in Tulsa, Okla., following graduation.
Replacing windows that are not energy efficient to match the newer ones is also one of the ways the school district plans to spend stimulus money, as well as installing a surveillance system in the elementary school, the only one of the district's schools that does not currently have a video system on their campus. Louvered windows that were installed in the school system as a means of ventilation when there was no air conditioning will also be replaced. This change will save energy and heating and cooling costs to the school district.
Another major project Brogdon discussed was the possibility of enlarging the Highland High School cafeteria. He said since the current gymnasium at the high school will only be used for physical education classes after the new facility opens, the need for the large lobby area will be eliminated. Brogdon said by closing off part of the lobby, a 40 percent increase in the size of the cafeteria can finally be achieved. He said currently the high school has four lunch shifts and hopes that by enlarging the lunch room; one shift can be eliminated yielding more instruction time for students.
Brogdon invited the public to take part in the Open House for the new center Nov. 8 at 2 p.m.
The next regular meeting of the Spring River Chamber of Commerce is set for Nov. 17. The speaker and location of the noon meeting will be announced at a later date. The public is always invited to attend the Dutch treat lunch meeting.