The funeral operator's $500,000 gift led the way to Mineral Ridge High's new football stadium and sports complex.
By JOHN KOVACH
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
MINERAL RIDGE -- Joe Lane's roots run deep in Mineral Ridge.
A fifth-generation operator of Lane Funeral Home, his great-grandfather, W. H. Burford, founded the business in 1855. The mantle later was passed to grandfather W.R. Burford, then to father Joseph Burford Lane, and then to Joe in 1950 and also his son, son, Joseph D.
Three generations of Lanes are Mineral Ridge High graduates: Joe's father (1903), and mother, Hallie C. Lane (1906), Joe and wife Geraldine Gilbert Lane (both in 1942), and their son Joe (1970). Plus, sisters Charlotte Lane Flickinger (1933) and Marguerite Lane Bowden (1936).
This family history and tradition are why Lane has played a leading role in the construction of Mineral Ridge High's new 2,500-seat football stadium and sports complex on the site of the old one.
His $500,000 contribution and overall influence and leadership was crucial to the success of the $1.5 million project that began last December.
Philanthropy: "It is kind of a pay-back for all of the good things people have done in town for us," said Lane.
The Joe Lane Sports Complex will be dedicated Sunday at 7:30 p.m. The first event will be Saturday's Band Night, and the first home football game is Aug. 31 against Grand Valley.
"It is a very close-knit community," Lane said. "The town has been so good to my family. [The business has] been in Mineral Ridge since 1855 at the same corner it is in right now."
Lane Funeral Home also has locations in Canfield and Austintown and four ambulance outlets. Son Joe, an attorney, operates the Canfield location and serves as corporate vice president.
Financing: But Lane said his contribution is only part of the project's success.
"I gave a half-million and the school board has allocated $200,000, so there is $700,000 in the bank, plus what the public is donating [by] buying [sponsors'] bricks at $300 apiece."
The project required a 10-year, $1 million loan from Farmers National Bank, Lane said.
"I don't think it will go 10 years. I feel that it will be paid off in five," said Lane. "It's just amazing how people are so generous. It just took awhile to get it rolling. Once we get things started in Mineral Ridge, things keep going. We have a lot of new people behind it."
Support: The bank's commitment and the community's outpouring insured the plan, Lane said.
"It's just amazing the way the thing has steam-rolled," said Lane. "We decided to spend more money as we began to get support from the bank and the public."
Take demolition for example.
"They [townspeople] tore the stadium down themselves [saving] $78,000. That gave them [officials] the confidence to install an eight-lane, all-weather track."
Credits: Lane credits previous school board president Dan Pringle with the stadium idea, who approached Lane about funding help. Superintendent Rocco Adduci, now in his second year, and new board president Dr. Douglas Darnell revived the idea and kept the momentum going, Lane said.
"He's a real go-getter, that Adduci," said Lane. "He came in here kind of cold turkey last year and got right behind this project and talked me into doing it. He is a ball of fire -- he and Dr. Doug Darnell."
The school board borrowed $950,000 from the bank, Adduci said. The project will cost over $1.5 million, and the $200,000 from the school board is a loan. Lane will provide $50,000 a year for the next 10 years, Adduci said.
"Joe Lane paid a third of it, the school will end up paying a third of it and the public will have to pay the other third," said Adduci. "We have close to 300 contributors from $50 to $10,000, and every penny going into the facility we have to come up with [which includes] another million plus interest over the next 10 years."
Lane was motivated by his love for athletics. He played football, basketball and baseball at both Mineral Ridge and the College of Wooster. He was in the U.S. Army during World War II in the 102nd infantry division rifle company K in Germany, and earned a battlefield commission from buck sergeant to first lieutenant, and came out a second lieutenant.
"It kind of gave me the confidence because at one point I had a company of 130 men I was in charge of, and I was only 19 years old and that just gave me a lot of confidence," said Joe.