New Fairlawn AD agrees to enthusiastic approach

By Jim Painter - For the Sidney Daily News

SIDNEY – The new athletic director of the Fairlawn Local School, Zachariah Freeling of Piqua, told the board of education Wednesday, July 10, he plans to create an atmosphere of enthusiasm for students to participate in sports. The board agreed that having such “enthusiasm” in the district would be a welcomed aspect of athletics.

The board also heard a presentation from the school’s athletic trainer regarding his activity during last school year.

The board unanimously agreed to a two-year, limited service contract commencing with the 2019-20 school year. Freeling will be paid an annual salary of $34,000 each year. He replaces Kim Rank, who resigned to spend more time with family, according to Superintendent Jeff Hobbs.

Freeling said he and his wife are graduates of Hardin-Houston High School, who are currently living in Piqua. Employed at a Meijer’s Distribution Center for the past three years, Freeling told of obtaining his master’s degree in athletic administration and coaching girls varsity basketball at Houston for the past three years.

He asked the board what they expected from him as the athletic director. Board president Bob Gold first spoke of creating an enthusiastic atmosphere to have more students to participate in athletics. Other board members voiced agreement with Gold’s comments.

Freeling said he has met with all the coaches for next school year and incorporate his expectations for their respective sport. He also told of meeting with Chad Keith, the district’s athletic trainer hired through Wilson Health.

Athletic improvements

Both said the hitting barn that’s currently used for baseball and softball practices only, could house additional training equipment. Keith said new equipment can be attached to a wall and folded closed until it protrudes just four inches from the wall. The estimated cost would be $2,465 to expand workout opportunities.

Keith reported his goal is to work with athletes in advance of their particular sport. He said preparing them physically could prevent some injuries from being sustained during their season.

The school’s strength and conditioning program resulted in an average of 31 to 48 students attending the 57 training sessions held for basketball, volleyball and cross country.

With a $32 per hour rate, Keith logged 90 hours for a total cost of $2,880.

The board was also introduced to Frances Haney as seventh-grade girls basketball coach. Her annual salary will be $2,157.26.

In other sports-related contracts, the board hired Amber Poeppelman as head golf coach with a salary of $2,516.80. She replaces Todd Heckman, who resigned. Jason Hemmelgarn was hired as assistant golf coach for a salary of $1,438.17. Cody Anthony was approved as volunteer varsity boys basketball coach; and James Apple as eighth-grade boys basketball coach for a salary of $2,157.26.

The board was introduced to Rachel Gernert as guidance counselor. She agreed to a one-year contract. She is a Jackson Center High School graduate and currently lives in Columbus. She replaces Chris Lauterbach, who resigned on June 17.

Construction is near for a satellite to be placed on school property. Hobbs said the device to be installed by Viasat, a global communications company, should be finished by the start of the upcoming school year.

In January, Hobbs said the company wanted to lease a 10-foot by 10-foot section of land located behind the bus barn to erect the satellite and run an underground cable out to the road. The company would pay $750 per month during the first year of a 5-year contract. The following years would have 10 percent payment increases annually.

According to the company’s website at, satellite applications could include digital HD television, satellite imaging, military communications, broadband networks, telemetry, satellite tracking, and teleports.

In other business, the board:

• Approved lunch prices for the upcoming school year. They will be $1.50 for breakfast; $2.30, lunch grades K-8; $2.80, lunch grades 9-12; reduced price breakfast, 30 cents; reduced price lunch, 40 cents; and, 40 cents for milk.

• Okayed class fees for the year. Hobbs reported a technology fee for sixth-grade students who will have laptop computers throughout the day. The technology fee for grades 7-8 were lowered as they will have less time on computers.

• Accepted the resignation of Danielle Poeppelman at the conclusion of the 2018-19 school year.

• Hired as teachers were Ashley Ambos and Bradley Rindler.

• Employed Debra Cummons-Parker and Elisabeth Baker as summer school teachers.

By Jim Painter

For the Sidney Daily News

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.

The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.