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School bond ballots hit mailboxes today

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With voter approval, Sunnyside High School's new football and soccer field will feature bleachers that closely resemble the seating at Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.

Sunnyside School District patrons can expect to find a ballot in their mailboxes today, at the latest this Friday.

The Yakima County Auditor's office began mailing out the ballots Wednesday. When local residents open the official looking envelope, they'll find they're being asked to approve, or reject, a $3.95 million athletic bond.

If 60 percent or more of the Sunnyside voters give a thumbs-up to the bond proposal, the Sunnyside School District will spend the extra money on upgrading the outdoor athletic facilities at Sunnyside High School.

The cornerstone of the remodeling project is a total revamping of the SHS football field. A new football stadium-complete with a state-of-the-art "field turf" system, updated lighting and new bleachers capable of seating 3,750 spectators-will be built around the existing high school track. Plans also call for resurfacing the track, as well as building a press box, complete with a public address system and new scoreboards.

Also planned is the construction of new locker rooms that will accommodate the players who use the field (for football and soccer), as well as adjoining restrooms for those who attend the outdoor games. A new concessions area and storage facilities will also be part of the new construction.

With voter approval, the improvements will also include realigning the high school baseball field, along with a new announcing booth, public address system, scoreboards and bleachers.

The remodeling project, too, consists of putting in a walking path for the community's residents, one that circles the entire athletic complex.

The need for a new football field, at least in terms of the bleachers, is great, according to school officials. The current bleachers at the grid field are 40 years old, and, they say, no longer meet current safety and building codes.

School district officials also cite the need for an expanded PE area for the community's growing student population, which, they say, will be accomplished under the remodeling plan.

Voter approval at this time also means the new athletic complex will be operational by this fall, in time for the September 2006 football games.

If local school district patrons approve the bond issue, property rates will rise at a rate of 28¢ per thousand-dollar of assessed valuation. That means the owner of a home valued at $150,000 would pay an additional $42 in property taxes each year.

Even so, point out advocates of the $3.95 million bond, taxes will increase to just $1.74 per thousand-dollar of assessed valuation. That rate, they say, is the second lowest tax rate of any school district in Yakima County.

The ballots that hit local mailboxes this week must be returned to the auditor's office with a postmark no later than May 16, if they are to be counted in the vote totals.

If voters reject the bond proposal, local school administrators will have to go back to the drawing board and either come up with a scaled-back plan that local voters find more affordable, or work to resubmit the bond proposal to local voters at a later date.

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