WAYNE — A small group of supporters gathered outside the conference room at the Wayne County Board of Education after a long-winded discussion over renaming the football field at Wayne High School ended with a decision that dodged renaming the field in favor of a small memorial near the front gate.
During its regular meeting Tuesday evening, the board unanimously approved Superintendent Todd Alexander's recommendation to honor the late Scott Jarrell, a former Wayne football coach, with several items to commemorate his legacy without having his name directly attached to the field.
The recommendation includes placing a stone between the shrubs directly in front of the main entrance gate to Pioneer Field along with a description of his service to the school and his coaching record etched in the stone.
The stone will be introduced on Oct. 11 during a ceremony prior to Wayne's home football game against Herbert Hoover.
Space will be reserved at the site for a bust currently being created by a former Wayne High student, and more landscaping will be added to the area.
In addition to the commemorative stone and bust, the school will also host a memorial game each year and fundraising will begin for the purchase of a new scoreboard with signage memorializing Jarrell.
"I am not a hundred percent happy with the proposal, but at least they are doing something to honor the man," said Chris Dickerson, the driving force behind a petition to rename Pioneer Field in honor of Jarrell. "I think he deserves even more recognition, but something is better than nothing."
Dickerson, editor of The West Virginia Record and former sports writer at The Herald-Dispatch and Charleston Daily Mail, picked up more than 3,000 signatures of support on an online petition to rename the stadium Scott Jarrell Field at Pioneer Stadium.
"There are plenty of fields in and around our area that are named after a former player or coach, but the (Wayne County) board doesn't seem to want to do that."
Upon the first reading of the commemoration plans, the tension in the room was obvious after having heard from a few members of the public prior to the voting process. In the initial moments after the proposal was read, each board member sat in silence, supporters in favor of renaming the field waited impatiently for a decision.
After further explanation was offered by Alexander, breaking the silence, a motion for approval was made by Randy Trautwein and seconded by Johnita Jackson, and eventually passed with a 5-0 vote in favor of the memorial stone and bust.
With the current plan, most of the decision-making lies in the hands of the school's administration, Alexander said, specifically in which game will serve as the memorial game each season and fundraising for a new scoreboard.
The memorial stone and bust had to be approved by the board as it's outlined in Section 7000, Code po7350 of the Policy Manual - titled "Commemoration of School Facilities."
Jack Dolance, Jarrell's grandson, said his family (namely grandmother) appreciates all the support shown from people around the community but didn't offer any comments specific to how the board ultimately chose to honor Jarrell.
"I quite honestly don't have anything to say to this side of the room," he said as he turned his back to the board members and addressed others who came to show support.
"What I do want to say, on behalf of my grandmother, is 'thank you' to every single one of you who showed up and supported this idea to honor my grandfather. I wanted to say how much it meant to us.
"As my grandmother has said, for us as a family, this was never about dishonoring Coach (Tom) Harmon, but remembering my grandfather," Dolance added.
According to Alexander, to come up with a plan to commemorate Jarrell, members of his family, Dickerson, Alexander and Wayne High administration met behind closed doors to discuss options.
He said renaming the field was considered in the early stages but was shot down in the presence of other options "everyone could be happy with."
"There was consideration when the idea was first floated out there. The idea had actually been presented to the school administration and (they) rejected it at the time. Then it came back around, this time directly to me, and talk kind of revived itself," he said, while reinforcing the idea that the adopted plan keeps that argument out of the conversation completely and allows people to focus on the subject being honored.
"Anytime you have a commemoration event, you want everybody to be able to celebrate it. We wanted to come up with something everyone could participate in and are glad to be a part of, and I think what we've proposed will do just that," Alexander said.
He added that he's sure the decision won't fall in good favor with everybody but feels it's a strong proposal which will appropriately recognize the former coach.