July 20, 2007
Bleacher snag puts schools in bind
· Construction delay could affect some season openers
By Rick Ryan
When high school football season kicks off a little more than a month from
Four county schools — St. Albans, Nitro, Sissonville and Herbert Hoover — are still awaiting the installation of new bleachers at their football fields, a process that takes about five weeks. Architectural problems with the contractor stand at the root of the delay.
For at least two of those schools,
“We’re in the contingency planning process right now,’’ said Chuck Wilson, the facilities director for the Kanawha County Board of Education. “It’s looking less likely that [the bleachers will] be there for the opening games.’’
The crunch isn’t as tough for
“There are some people getting a little bit nervous,’’ said Nitro Principal Paul McClanahan. “I haven’t been able to get any real firm [estimations] about anything. We were talking [Thursday] about maybe playing a game at Laidley Field. We’re walking a tightrope here.’’
George Washington and
Sissonville has already decided to play its home opener at Joe Sawyers Field even if the bleachers aren’t ready.
“We’ll probably just stay put,’’ said Calvin McKinney, the school’s principal. “We’ll probably bring in some portable bleachers and try to inform the public to bring their lawn chairs, and we’ll just make do. That’s my thinking right now.
“When you don’t have any control over the situation, you just have to live with it and move on. So we’ll tell people to bring their blankets and lawn chairs and put them on the hillside and sit there. We’ll still play our home games there unless the weather is such that we can’t. Yes, it’s an inconvenience, but sometimes you’ve got to do those things.’’
Wilson explained that the delay arose when the contractor, Steel Stadiums of Graham, Texas, included some design flaws in the detailed drawings they sent the county.
“When we received them,’’
Works crews from Steel Stadiums are expected to arrive next week in the
“If everything goes just right,’’
Laidley Field/University of
Fortunately, the Aug. 24 date is available for SA because Laidley’s two fulltime tenants — Capital and GW — open the season a day earlier. Aug. 31 is not, since GW has a home game, but Saturday, Sept. 1 is a possibility either in the afternoon following the Charleston Distance Run or in the evening. UC is on the road Sept. 1.
Lou Ann Lanham-Henson, manager of Laidley Field, received a call last week from Kanawha schools Superintendent Ron Duerring about keeping her facility “available’’ for the affected schools.
“We’ll help in any way we can,’’ Lanham-Henson said. “That’s what we’re there for.’’
She said schools would receive the same arrangements as Capital and GW if they provide workers at the concession stands — 25 percent of the profits after the 6 percent sales tax.
Before his retirement earlier this week, SC Principal Bill Walton said Oakes Field could be available for county schools to play on Saturdays.
If it has to move games,
“We’ll have to adapt,’’ said SA athletic director Rick Whitman. “We were told at the beginning [the bleachers] would be ready, and they’re not. It’s a case where we’ll lose money. We’ll do what we can do.’’
Even with the delays,
“It’s important to remember,’’ he said, “that while we’ll be inconvenienced for a couple games, in the long term we’ll have special facilities replacing dilapidated, dangerous bleachers. We needed to tear those bleachers out even if we’re not replacing them.’’
A $44 million school bond levy passed in 2003 allocated funds for the replacement bleachers.
To contact assistant sports editor Rick Ryan, use e-mail or call 348-5175.
Early-season schedules for
Aug. 24 — at Ravenswood
Aug. 31 — open
Sept. 7 —
Sept. 14 — at
Aug. 24 — at Poca
Aug. 31 — at George Washington (Laidley)
Sept. 7 — open
Sept. 14 —
Aug. 24 — at Chapmanville
Aug. 31 — Point Pleasant
Sept. 7 — at Winfield
Sept. 14 —
Aug. 24 — Ripley
Aug. 31 —
Sept. 7 —
Sept. 14 — at