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Kristen Daum, Published September 22 2009

Moorhead track promoters fall short

Community members are facing hurdles in their effort to build a running track in honor of Staff Sgt. Andrew P. Nelson, a Moorhead soldier killed in Iraq two years ago.

Family friends wanted to build a 600-foot-long asphalt track this fall at Moorhead’s Townsite Park, 311 10th St. S. The community track would be named after Nelson, who ran track and cross country during high school.

But after fundraising efforts fell short this month and construction bids came in higher than expected, the track might have to wait until spring, said Karen Nitzkorski, a family friend and West Fargo School Board member.

The “Friends of Andrew Nelson” wanted to raise $30,000 by Sept. 15. Despite many donations from the public, only $12,000 was collected as of Thursday, Nitzkorski said.

Meanwhile, construction bids for the project came back at costs almost double what Nitzkorski and other organizers expected.

“Now, it looks like it’ll be more in the range of $50,000 to $60,000,” she said.

One option is to hold off on the project until spring and send out new bids then, which might come back at a lower cost, Nitzkorski said.

“Everybody’s so busy right now that the bids came in higher to meet our needs of getting it done before winter,” Nitzkorski said.

In the meantime, Nitzkorski and others are still trying to raise enough money for the track by soliciting donations from the public and local organizations, businesses and foundations.

“We’re very pleased with the response we’ve had. We’re just not finalized,” she said. “We’re sure we’ll make it happen – there’s no doubt.”

Family friends have said that Nelson’s love of track and cross country made this project an obvious way to honor him. Valerie Ritland, first-cousin to Andrew’s mother, Suzanne, previously encouraged Moorhead residents to help make the project happen, in remembrance of Nelson’s sacrifice.

“Andrew’s worthy of this honor,” Ritland said, days before the second anniversary of Nelson’s death. “This is a gift to this community where he grew up.”

how to help:

Donations can be sent to U.S. Military Vets MC/APNTF, c/o Union State Bank, 4530 17th Ave. S., Fargo, ND 58106. Checks should be made out to U.S. Military Vets MC.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kristen Daum at (701) 241-5541