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The End of an Era in Walsenburg ?

by David Tesitor Walsenburg- The John Mall Panthers hosted the Dolores Huerta Preparatory High School Scorpions on October 26, in what may well have been the last football game ever played on the old field behind the new Spanish Peaks Library. For over 80 years the Panthers have hosted many teams on the field, winning some and losing more. It was on this field of dreams that the then Walsenburg High School marching band performed their championship performances to the half-time delight of the many fans that filled the old rock bleachers. On that night, it was all football. In what started out as a slow defensive first quarter, Dolores Huerta got on the board first with 8:30 remaining in the second quarter. The Panthers then took the ensuing kickoff to begin a drive which fell short. The Scorpions took advantage of a missed Charles Whitehead 33 yard field goal attempt and drove the ball 67 yards to end the half 14-0. They never looked back. The Panthers plan on moving to their new sports complex next season, but that is not certain. Funding has not yet been completed and plans for an Astroturf surface is in check. According to Gaye Davis, grant writer for the school district, “Money is always an issue. You build up what you can as money becomes available.” The district took bids beginning November 12 for curbs, drainage and some utilities and are looking into alternative ad-on bids for the turn, bleachers and other amenites. Davis also indicated that proceeds from the sale of the old middle school to the library district have been earmarked to be used as matching funds for new grant money. While the citizens floated a bond issue to build the Peakview school, phase two has been build strictly with grant money, which leads to the question, just how much grant money is available. That night was more than a football game though. The irony of the evening is the library wouldn’t have been possible if it were not for the School District selling the old school to the Library district, the new sports complex may not have been possible. Yet, on a warm fall evening, on the last game of the Panthers disappointing 1-10 season, the lights may be dimmed forever. The eight seniors may not realize that in some way they were the last class to play on that field that has held so many dreams and success stories. They will not be remembered as delivering a league or even a state championship to Walsenburg. They will however take solace as the last group of guys to play here, champions in the hearts of their fans. This leaves a question. Since both the library and the school sports program have been sharing space, and both are in a quest to build twenty-first century structures, who will complete their monolith first? My money is with the Library since voters approved a separate bond issue. The Panthers lost to the Scorpions 35-14.

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