The Irrigon Junior-Senior High School (IJSHS) community celebrated the official opening of their new track with a ribbon cutting on Thursday.
Despite a blustery afternoon, Superintendent Matt Combe and IJSHS Principal Rose Palmer welcomed a small crowd of stakeholders and community members to mark the occasion. Representatives from Morrow County School District, IJSHS, the Port of Morrow, and Wildhorse Foundation were all present.
Most of the crowd huddled under the concession stand roof to stay out of the wind, but folks were happy to partake in the cookies festively iced with the Irrigon Knight’s “I” in the school colors. Superintendent Combe first addressed the crowd, followed by Principal Palmer, and then key participants fanned across the starting line to simultaneously cut the ribbon in multiple places.
The track has been in the works for almost a year, with construction starting in June 2022. The Port of Morrow donated over $85,000 in labor and engineering, with funding also coming from Morrow County School District, the city of Irrigon, Morrow County Unified Recreation District, Columbia River Technologies, Boardman Community Development Association, CREZ Board, and a $20,000 grant from the Wildhorse Foundation.
Athletic Director Mike Royer noted that the professional-grade track provides an opportunity for IJSHS athletes and the community in general.
“Our student athletes are excited to be able to practice and have meets on a professional-grade surface and that we no longer have to bus to Umatilla for practice,” he said. Royer also mentioned that the improved facility increases safety for everyone.
The new track is a significant improvement from the previous gravel and dirt track that had become limiting for the track and field competitors. The final surface is three inches deep with a synthetic rubberized top layer with lane stripe painting completed on the vivid red track in the fall.
Palmer said this track has brought the IJSHS community together while working towards this major goal.
“I am so happy to be a small part of this big project — so many people worked to make this project a reality, and I am grateful to our many community supporters who made this track possible,” Palmer said.
“At the end of the day, we are always working to serve our students and community,” said Combe “This track is a big thing to point to and say, ‘look at what can happen when we come together.’ ”