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Canton accepts donation of more than $203,000 for permanent lights at high school

The Canton Board of Selectmen have accepted a donation of more than $203,000 from the Lights on Canton committee to install permanent lights at the high school.

CANTON, May 9 – The final push in April for the Lights on Canton committee, seeking to raise money for permanent lights around the track and field complex and artificial turf field at Canton High, was successful.

The committee exceeded their goal to raise $30,000 in 30 Days in April. That enabled the committee to collect $203,653. On Wednesday night, the Canton Board of Selectmen voted to accept the donation from Lights on Canton.

Lights on Canton, a subcommittee of the Canton Athletic Booster Club, wanted to meet their goal to raise $203,000 by May so that the actual lights could be ordered and be ready to be used this fall.

Kimberly Marze and Christina Mitchell, co-chairs of the Lights on Canton committee, said that the cost of the lights is about $203,000. The town will work to pay for the installation of the lights – an estimated $37,000, according to Marze and Mitchell.

In April, Mitchell said that the final amount needed for installation had yet to be determined. The town still needs to get detailed estimates on the work to install the lights and potentially send it out to bid. Mitchell said the town will investigate several options to pay for the installation including energy credits, grants and in-kind donations of labor.

Lights on Canton received some signification donations in the past few weeks to get over the finish line.

The Canton Community Health Fun voted to give the Lights on Canton team a grant of $5,000. “We are humbled by the donation and think that the lights will add such a vital resource for the health and wellness of Canton residents – giving young and old a safe, well-lit place to exercise even when the sunlight fades,” Marze said.

Thanks to a suggestion from a student Diego Noriega, fees from students to park at the high school will be donated toward the purchase of the lights. The Board of Education approved the donation of $15,000

In March, Lights on Canton reached out to Canton High alumni and members of the Canton High Wall of Fame and received two anonymous donations of $25,000, including one from a member of the Canton High Class of 1984.

Marze said the anonymous donation from the Class of 1984 member sparked a cascade of other gifts from additional members of that class.

Canton Little League made a $5,000 donation and Lisa Alvarez-Calderon, another member of the Canton High Class of 1984, donated $5,000. Donations were also received from Canton Youth Lacrosse ($2,000), Canton Youth Basketball ($1,000), the Canton Middle School Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) ($2,000) and the Canton High girls soccer team ($1,000).

When the Lights on Canton committee announced their $30,000 in 30 Days campaign on April 1, the Canton Youth Soccer organization donated an additional $5,000. Canton Youth Soccer donated $5,000 when the fundraising campaign for lights began in January 2017.

Friends of Canton Football also made a donation of a $2,500 to commemorate a bench at the athletic complex.

In November 2016, the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission approved permanent lights to be installed at the facility. Four 80-foot poles will provide the lights. The permit approved by the P&Z will allow up to 25 games a year with the lights being turned off by 10:30 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on Saturday. No Sunday events with lights will be permitted.

In November 2012, town voters approved a $3.6 million facility as part of parking improvements and upgrades at Canton High. It included a state-of-the-art eight-lane track and field facility and a multi-purpose artificial turf field. Conduit and infrastructure for permanent lighting was built at that time. The facility opened in November 2013.

Canton hosted its first-ever night football game at the high school Friday night against Lewis Mills in November 2013.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of The Collinsville Press. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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