Coach Don Lay fans plan protest at school board meeting

ST. GEORGE – Supporters of former Dixie High School Coach Don Lay plan to speak out in support of keeping Lay’s name on the school’s baseball field at Tuesday’s Washington County School District Board meeting.

The historic Don Lay Flyer Field at Dixie High School in St. George is being torn down, and a new baseball field is nearing completion nearby; however controversy has arisen over the name of the new field.

The old field, on 700 South adjacent to Dixie High School, was named after much-loved and celebrated baseball coach Don Lay, who died in 2011. Plans are to name the new field simply Flyer Field – a move some disagree with.

Letter naming Dixie baseball field after Coach Don Lay, signed by then school district superintendent Steven Peterson and others, photo undated | Image courtesy Merry Johnson via Ilene Hacker, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge
Letter naming Dixie baseball field after Coach Don Lay, signed by then school district superintendent Steven Peterson and others, photo undated | Image courtesy Merry Johnson via Ilene Hacker, St. George News | Click on image to enlarge

Merry Dawn Lay Johnson, daughter of Lay, will present a letter to the Washington County School District Board at the Tuesday meeting that, she said, shows the name was intended to be maintained “as a perpetual designation.”

The letter shows about 32 or so signatures, including one matching the principal on the letterhead, Ross N. Taylor. Johnson said the letter was presented, along with a plaque, at a Dixie High School Letterman’s Banquet held to honor school athletes May 20, 1987.

The letter is not dated, but captions the years 1966-1987. The closing paragraph reads:

As a final tribute to a GREAT COACH and a DEAR FRIEND  Dixie High School will proudly display a a name sign proclaiming ‘COACH DON LAY’S FLYER FIELD’ which will be maintained as a perpetual designation of his contribution to the GOLD, BLUE and WHITE of DIXIE HIGH SCHOOL.

“It just seems so sad – I realize times have changed – but that they would forget the contribution and legacy of people … educators,” Johnson said.

The decision regarding the name of the new field was made by Dixie High School Principal Sharla Campbell, who stands by her decision to simply name the new baseball field “Flyer Field.”

Campbell said in an earlier interview that she feels the best way to honor history while moving forward is a “Dixie legacy wall” that gives the school the opportunity to honor several people who have contributed to Dixie baseball over the years.

“Instead of just one name on the field, the wall can include different people from different eras,” Campbell said.

Johnson said: “It just seems like, what is the harm in keeping his name on it? I don’t understand how that takes away from all the other people that have contributed to the field and improved upon it.”

Lay supporters have launched a Facebook page, Save the Don Lay Flyer Field, and Dixie High School graduate Ilene Hacker and others also started an online petition on Change.org called “Keep the name of the new Dixie baseball field ‘Don Lay Flyer Field.'”

Don Lay Flyer Field is being torn down, and a new baseball field has been built at Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, June 10, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News
Don Lay Flyer Field is being torn down, and a new baseball field has been built at Dixie High School, St. George, Utah, June 10, 2015 | Photo by Julie Applegate, St. George News

The school board meeting starts at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and at the end of the meeting members of the public can address the board for three minutes, District Administrative Secretary Kajsia Boyer said.

“So we’re trying to get as many supporters as we can at the school board meeting,” Johnson said, “Apparently they will allow 30 people to speak three minutes each at the end of the meeting.”

Anyone who wants to speak at a school board meeting must fill out a short form, WCSD Form 50, which can be found on the school district website, and is also available prior to the meeting, Boyer said.

School board meetings are typically held on the second Tuesday of each month, although this is subject to change. The Washington County School District building is located at 121 W. Tabernacle Street in St. George.

School board agenda

Tuesday’s school board meeting agenda includes these items:

  • Policy changes regarding attendance, student transportation and the distribution and posting of promotional materials
  • Final budget for 2014-2015, and the proposed budget for 2015-2016
  • School land trust plans for 2015-2016
  • Discussion of policies on concurrent enrollment, and the board of education
  • Informational report on instructional technology
  • Reports by the superintendent, the school board and the PTA/PTO and Community Council

Resources

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Email: japplegate@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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1 Comment

  • Sand-Town June 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    The family should be saying “Thsnk You, for honoring our father for the last 28 years. Now it’s time to allow others to be honored.” This whole drama seems selfish to me. I remember it was in 1952 that Garth Belliston was the first Dixie High Coach. Why aren’t we honoring him as the one who brought baseball to Dixie High? Doesn’t the history from the old Dixie High school on Main Street count?

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