By SCOTT PESZNECKER
Two rows of folding chairs yesterday were filled mostly with Copperopolis residents Karen Turner near the middle awaiting word on a new field for their elementary school.
When the Mark Twain Union Elementary School District board vote came approving bids for the $225,000 project, Turner cried.
Moments later, district board Chairwoman Jennifer Eltringham asked why the room was so silent, and the audience burst into applause.
"I am thrilled. I am totally thrilled," Turner said after the meeting. "This is finally going to happen."
About a year has passed since Turner, president of the Copperopolis Parent Teacher Club, first asked the board for a new field at Copperopolis Elementary School.
Parents in Copperopolis have long wanted field renovations, saying the play area poses a safety hazard to students because the grass is clumpy and the ground uneven.
The new field will be level and irrigated, so the grass will not dry up during hot weather.
It will also be bordered by an asphalt track, contain a dual-use baseball and softball diamond and have enough room for a soccer field.
The district plans to borrow the money for the project and pay it back with developer fees.
"This could never have happened without all the children, all the parents and all the teachers in Copperopolis," said Turner, whose 8-year-old son, Dillon, presented board members with signatures from students from kindergarten through fifth grade in support of a new field.
Plans call for the field to be completed by the start of next school year.
Dillon said he wants his schoolmates "to have their soccer field and baseball diamond. Most of the kids at school would like it."