JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – From track team and band members to football players and cheerleaders, Westmont Hilltop students gathered at Price Field on Thursday with golden shovels to break ground on the renovation project at the stadium complex.

“It means a lot to be representing the school and sports teams,” Emma O’Neil said.

She was there for soccer and track, along with teammate Morgan Faight.

The two said they were excited about the improvements to the field and were looking forward to utilizing it next year when work – including the addition of lights – is complete.

Faight can’t wait to play soccer there at night.

“I always like playing under the lights,” she said.

O’Neil added that it’ll be nice to have track meets at home. During her time on the team, that’s never been a possibility.

‘Benefit of the region’

The $7.5 million project will include a new track, grandstand, scoreboard, lights and several other upgrades.

The Westmont school board approved the work in February.

“This is a culminating event of many years of work and discussions of the school board, administration and consultants to make this happen,” Superintendent Thomas Mitchell said.

“This field will be enjoyed by students, student athletes and the community for the benefit of the region.”

In addition to the students, members of the administration, school directors and the public were in attendance.

“When it’s open, it’ll be the best facility in the region,” board President Robert Gleason said.

He led the groundbreaking ceremony.

‘Good for the community’

Gleason thanked not only the board and facilities committee for their work, but also Westmont Borough Council, the planning commission and the zoning board for their “fast action and concurrence.”

He also applauded Mitchell, athletic director Tom Callihan, area residents and the Beth Sholom congregation for donating the acreage below the field for a drainage pond.

“I’m really glad we were able to do this project (within) the budget and without increasing taxes,” board Treasurer Kamal Gella said.

Price Field was named after former school board President Phillip M. Price, who died while in office.

Vicki Price, who is married to the namesake’s grandson, stopped by to watch the groundbreaking.

“It’s good for the community,” she said about the work.

Price considers the project an opportunity for both the school and the residents because football and other activities will be centralized in the borough.

Construction on the project is scheduled to begin Monday. 

Joshua Byers is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at 814-532-5054. Follow him on Twitter @Journo_Josh.

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