NEW MARTINSVILLE - It was June 29 when severe weather raged through West Virginia and the Ohio Valley, knocking out power in most of the state, leaving some places in shambles.
New Martinsville was certainly one of those places. A town where everybody knows everybody saw plenty of damage, but the biggest shock came at Alumni Field.
The press box at the football field, less than two years old, came crashing down.
Work is being done to complete Magnolia’s press box in time for tonight’s game against Tyler Consolidated.
''We couldn't believe it,'' Magnolia principal Kathi Schmalz said. ''The storm came June 29 and the football season was so close. We didn't know what we were going to do.''
The three-story press box was constructed in the summer of 2010 and replaced another building that had become obsolete. The bottom level, made with concrete blocks, was used for storage. The middle level was used by game-night workers and members of the media, while the top level was for coaches and videographers.
A little more than two months later, Alumni Field will again debut a new press box when Magnolia plays host to Tyler Consolidated tonight.
Work began early this week piecing together the two-story building, which saw everyone from football coach Mark Batton, athletics director Brian Castilow, and numerous members of the community lend a helping hand.
''I really have to thank the board of education and (superintendent) Diane Watt for helping getting this thing going,'' Schmalz said. ''The task has been very trying, just having to work with insurance companies and with building it. We lost a lot of the contents and not much was salvageable.
''But the building is put together. It has windows and the siding is coming along.''
The damage was estimated at $150,000 and the insurance company was able to pay most of that.
''Luckily when we built it, the superintendent approved for us to have it insured and that is what really saved us,'' Schmalz said. ''It didn't cover everything but we are working to put together the rest of the funds.''
As talks began immediately about construction of the new press box, Schmalz made sure the steel company was ready to guarantee this would never happen again.
She was assured it wouldn't.
The field got by the past two weeks as Magnolia and River, playing there this season because of construction around its high school, were able to use lifts to put people up high to operate the scoreboard and use spotters.
''We somehow pulled it off,'' Schmalz said.
Tonight will be a different story.
Back into the building will go the newspaper reporters, radio guys, scoreboard operators, spotters, and coaches. The press box will be very similar to the previous one.
''It's been a huge relief, but we are so glad it is back,'' Schmalz said. ''This is all for the kids.''
Josh Strope can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org