When 500 students from seven schools recently competed in the Small School’s Track Meet at Belridge School, they did so without having to worry about trips and falls due to cracks in the track or holes in the field getting in their way.
During spring break, while the students were enjoying time off from school, Bowman Construction LLC, with funding from Aera Energy, was hard at work renovating the old track and infield. The school graciously renamed the updated track, Aera Energy Track and Field.
“Previously the track and field were a safety hazard to the students who use it daily for physical education and track practice,” said Tammy Reynolds, superintendent of the school. “One of the activities we offer to promote physical growth is the Annual Small School’s Track Meet. However, we were faced with a bit of a crisis this year due to the poor condition of our track. We felt the track was unsafe, and unfortunately we didn’t have the funds to renovate it.”
John O’Connor, manager of operations at Aera’s Belridge field, took note of the condition of the track while working with the school on several other activities over the last year.
“The school and the children there are connected to our field and our history,” said O’Connor, who was a strong advocate for the project. “With safety being so critically important to us, we couldn’t just stand by and watch these kids trying to stay healthy while dodging the potholes and cracks on the track. We knew that we could change that, so we did.”
Area’s investment in Belridge School and the surrounding community is more than just financial. The company is devoted to the community in McKittrick as more than 1,600 people work at the Belridge Producing Complex and the work Aera does in the North and South Belridge fields allows the company to be an important partner in the community.
Aera’s $50,000 donation allowed the track to be ground down to remove loose gravel and debris, as well as to create a slope on the edges that will safely transition the track to the edge and eliminate tripping hazards. After that, a new layer of asphalt was poured over the entire track creating a smooth finish. Finally, the track was striped to create the lanes needed for the track meets and practices. The entire process took four days and 285 tons of asphalt. The new track will service the students for the next seven to 10 years.