MADERA – One Madera area high school is optimistic that it will have its stadium lights on when the football season starts, despite the damage done to lighting and sound systems by wire thieves twice in the month of August.
An unknown number of suspects struck the grounds of Liberty Madera High School, 30 minutes north of Fresno, on Aug. 8 and 12. The damage they wreaked has left the darkened football stadium’s electrical and fiber optic systems and telephone lines in need of serious repair.
Madera County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Erica Stuart said the department has just launched its investigation into the wire thefts. So far, nothing is known about the number of suspects or any physical features the suspects may have. A motive is also unknown.
On Thursday, Liberty Madera High athletic director Mike Mazzoni confirmed that the football team is still expecting to play its Sept. 2 home game against Corcoran High School, despite the current lack of lighting and sound at the home stadium.
“We’re just replacing all the wire and hoping to have our first home game,” Mazzoni said. “We’ve already talked to Corcoran about it. If worse comes to worse, if we can’t get it on that Friday, we’ll just move the game to week five, which is our bye week.”
Mazzoni added that practice times were never altered because of the crimes, with the team holding most of its sessions in the afternoon hours before the sun goes down.
Golden Valley School District chief business officer Jim Monreal has indicated that the process of getting the stadium lights and the sound back on is being attended to right now.
“They’re already re-lining and re-wring the main stadium lights as we speak,” Monreal said. “There’s a scrimmage tomorrow (Friday), but it’ll be done during the day. Our goal is to have the stadium back for our first preseason game, which is a week from tomorrow (Friday).”
The estimated cost of the damage done by the wire thieves is in the $70,000 range, according to Monreal. These are the first such thefts in the stadium’s existence.