Controversy Comes to Boil Over Field Name
A Hermann High School student wants to see his school's new football field named after a Marine killed in action last summer in Iraq. In a tense meeting, for the second time in a month, the Gasconade County school board rejected a proposal that would have attached local Marine Erik Heldt's name to his former high school's football field.
Matthew Harris brought the proposal. The sixteen-year-old collected more than 1,200 signatures on a petition to honor someone he considers a local hero. The school board maintains its position that Heldt could be rightly honored, while not excluding other local heroes, by simply naming the stadium Memorial Field. Members say they don't deny that Heldt is worthy of the honor, but there are others from the Hermann community who are just as deserving.
"We just, the board just doesn't want to get in a situation...First come, first served type basis," said Gasconade County Schools Superintendent Mark Leech.
Community members brought almost a month's worth of growing tension to the school board meeting tonight, where Harris presented his petition to the board. That tension was almost physically tangible as members of the community, both for and against putting Heldt's name on the field, pleaded their cases.
The issue is all but resolved after the school board gave a formal statement denying Harris' petition. It is unknown if the field will be name Memorial Field, but it will not be name after Heldt.