Floyd Co. past and present school leaders, community officials dedicate new high school athletic complex, named for the school board member's family foundation that helped fund it
Floyd County Chronicle, Prestonsburg, Aug. 30, 2017
Floyd Central athletics field dedicated
By Mary Meadows
Current and former Floyd County School District officials joined local government officials and state representatives for the dedication of the Floyd Central High School athletic complex on Aug. 25.
The athletic complex was dedicated in honor of the Varia family. That family foundation, founded years ago by school district board member Dr. Chandra Varia and her deceased husband, Dr. Mahendra Varia, donated $105,102 for the athletics complex.
The donation came as Varia family members, flanked by Floyd Central football players and officials, addressed the crowd from the football field prior to the first home football game for the Floyd Central Jaguars. A portion of the donation, $5,100, came from a foundation named for Dr. Varia’s one-year-old great-granddaughter, Laila Rani, the daughter of Sheel Mehta Slone and Rick Slone.
“What an awesome way to kick off our football season,” Floyd Central Principal Greta Thornsberry said.
Dr. Varia’s granddaughter, Sheel Mehta Slone told the crowd, “Standing here in front of you, I can’t help but imagine all the lives of the students that this very football field and school will shape. High school is such an important time for children to develop socially, mentally and physically.”
She talked about how sports teaches students teamwork and other skills and reviewed a long list of contributions her grandparents have given Floyd County, including years of service in the medical field, public service on the Martin City Council and school board and the support of various educational programs and events.
“I’ve seen my grandparents donate and give to this community, over and over, and I see the impact it has had on Floyd County,” she said. “At a time when there are so many uncertainties in our future, it’s nice to know that people are still caring and have big hearts. As my daughter grows up, she can be whatever she wants to be, but I hope she has the same genuine heart as my grandparents, she has the same moral character that they have and that she can make such a difference in this world as they have. That is my wish for her and all the students of Floyd County.”
Dr. Varia’s nephew, Anand Doshi, told the crowd that being at the dedication ceremony was a “homecoming” for him. He graduated from Allen Central High School.
“It’s kind of really nice to come back home,” he said. “This is kind of my homecoming, I suppose. It’s really nice to be here on the field where Allen Central got consolidated, and it’s a really nice facility. So, hopefully, you guys will be able to learn and grow here as I did in the Floyd County school system.”
He told the crowd that “education is the foundation” for a child’s future, but sports play an important role in helping students mature.
“Like Sheel has already pointed out, our family has always supported good things in this community and, hopefully, we will continue with that,” he said. “And education and self-betterment has always been of prime importance of our family. And hopefully, this field will bring that out.”
Former Superintendent Dr. Henry Webb, who now works in Kenton County, thanked school district officials, legislators and local leaders for their support when he spoke at the dedication.
Other attendees included Rep. Johnny Ray Turner, D-Prestonsburg, Rep. Larry Brown, R-Prestonsburg, Floyd County Judge Executive Ben Hale, Floyd County Sheriff John Hunt, Floyd County Clerk Douglas Ray Hall and others, including former school board member Jeff Stumbo.
Interim Superintendent Steve Trimble said Dr. Webb and the board members “worked extremely hard” to make the school and its athletic complex “a perfect facility.”
“It took a lot of work and dedication to do that,” he said, telling the crowd they made history as being part of the school’s first football game.
The Jaguars pounced the Betsy Layne Bobcats in the first home game, beating the Bobcats by a final of 43-0.
Hundreds of people attended the game. Before, during and after the dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting, the line of vehicles often stretched from the entrance of the school near Rt. 680 to the athletic complex driveway, which zig-zags up the mountain behind the high school.
Floyd County School District Finance Director Matt Wireman estimated the cost of the athletic fields, buildings and amenities at the complex to be approximately $5 million.