Robert Olinger has lived in Dayton Borough since 1998. He has raised four children – two girls which have already graduated from West Shamokin High School and two boys still attending the school. He is involved in youth baseball, youth soccer, youth basketball, and is also a Dayton councilman.
But last night, Olinger was an advocate for the West Shamokin athletic program, saying the school has been overlooked since it was built as far as athletic facilities.
“When we initially built West Shamokin, we closed three high school gyms of full size. At West Shamokin, we built a gym and a half,” Olinger told the Armstrong School District directors last night at a public meeting. “I think when we built West Shamokin, we weren’t entirely truthful with what the costs would be. Had we built West Shamokin with the purpose of replacing those high schools, we would’ve built it with two gyms, at least.”
Olinger said there aren’t enough gyms to accommodate school activities and community functions.
“When you had Dayton, if there was an activity, they’d bring them over to the high school. Same with Elderton; same with Shannock. Had it not been for private institutions or community institutions, like Dayton United Methodist, we would have had no place to do things like the Dayton Community Choir. Those things we used to do at the high school. Same with Shannock – they now have to rely on a privately owned, what was the old Shannock High, school gym.
“With youth basketball, we’ve ran into all sorts of problem trying to get gym time. Gym time is so precious right now in our school district. In fact, the pre-day toss as far as the Little Lions that’s been a 50-plus-year tradition – last year was the first year that we didn’t have it. Trying to schedule now that West Shamokin’s successful getting to the playoffs in basketball, we have even less time. In trying to coordinate that. We ended up not having what has turned into Little Lions’ to Little Wolves’ Night. And that’s a huge community program that brings out a lot of people.”
Olinger said there is not equity between the boys and the girls in using the gym.
“My daughters would come back (and say they) had the half gym, (while) the boys had the full gym. You can’t go full out and practices what you need to put together a successful team in a half gym.”
Olinger criticized the $300-per-square-foot rate to build a new stadium addition at West Shamokin that has been approved by the school board.
“West Shamokin was built at about $129 a square foot 20 years ago,” Olinger said.
“I think our goal is to get another gym. I think that’s what we wanted,” he told school directors. He even passed out specifications for gyms that allegedly cost $100 per square foot.
Olinger also criticized the West Shamokin building that shows deterioration, while he maintains the 100-year-old Dayton High School is still intact.
He also said that the Boosters have had to store stuff in locker rooms because there was not sufficient storage space for the concession stand.
ASD Board President Paul Lobby thanked Olinger for his comments and said they would be taken under consideration.
Olinger said following the meeting that he wasn’t looking to compete with facilities at Armstrong High School, but felt that the school district should give equitable treatment to all students.