Behind the Board Table
By Jeff Stout – Former Port Huron Schools Board Trustee
Originally Published on October 22nd, 2018.
The source and photos for this story were compiled and archived by Mr. Jeremiah May, a Port Huron High School (PHHS) teacher. Additional information may be obtained at phhshistory.com.
As we approach the month of November some of our local schools organize events that honor and celebrate this country’s military veterans. November 11th is the official date of recognition. I mention this because it is the connection to veterans that brought the Memorial Recreation Park to Port Huron. While Veterans Day celebrates all living military personnel, Memorial Day honors the military personnel who gave their lives defending our freedoms. Many of our local citizens are part of that effort.
in 1945, an athletic and recreational park began to take shape at the site of Port Huron High School. The Memorial Recreation Park, a memorial to honor the veterans of World War II, was constructed at a cost of $300,000. On the twenty-seven acre site is a 5,500 seat lighted stadium facility, tennis courts, baseball fields, softball diamonds, practice football fields, and a quarter mile track.
The project was spearheaded by C.V Fowler – athletic director of Port Huron Schools, and Howard D. Crull – superintendent of Port Huron Schools. Mr. Fred L. Riggins, Sr. – President of the Mueller Brass Company, along with other industries, business, and professional men who offered to form a pool to start up the Port Huron District Foundation.
Mr. D.J. Mitchell developed an educational and promotion program backed by sixty-nine organizations with a collective membership of 10,000, and both a campaign committee and foundation treasury were formed. George C. Higgins, the mayor, added $113,000 to the already $82,000 in the treasury. With the money in the bank, the foundation entered into an agreement with the Board of Education on the management and maintenance of the project. The foundation agreed to permit the school board to operate and manage the park for twenty years, while it retained a controlling lease with the stipulation that it would be operated for the benefit of all interested groups, public schools, parochial schools, and non-school groups. At the end of twenty years, the Board of Education would gain full title to the property and facilities.
More recently, the community has supported bond issues that have improved and upgraded the facility. New paint, new seating at the stadium and baseball field, new lockers and locker rooms, new tennis courts, a new scoreboard, and one special relocation project.
As originally designed, the south end of the field house had a monument placed that identified local citizens who had perished in World War II. As time passed, what was originally the entrance to the football stadium, now became just the back of the field house. The primary entrance had shifted to the west side of the stadium. The 2011 bond project was used to remove and relocate the monument to a more visible location with flagpoles, lighting, paving and landscaping. The first thing people see now as they enter the stadium grounds is Port Huron’s recognition of its own citizens who sacrificed their lives in the name of freedom in World War II.
As we honor our veterans this November 11th, please keep a thought in your heart and minds about the individuals whose sacrifice is the foundation of why we call it ‘Memorial’”.
Jeff Stout is a graduate of St. Clair County Community College and Sienna Heights University with a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science – Public Safety Studies.
Originally from Arizona, he made his way to Michigan through the United States Air Force and has been a Blue Water Area resident since 1974. Jeff is married to Catherine Stout, a retired PHASD teacher and resides in Clyde Township. They have two adult daughters and two grandsons who attend Port Huron Schools at FGMS and PHN.
He is a retired Port Huron Fire Department Asst. Chief with 27 years of service and has been doing contract inspection work for the Port Huron Housing Commission under the HUD Section 8 program for the last 13 years.
First elected to the Port Huron Area School District Board of Education in 2000, Jeff has just completed his 18th year of service.
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