Con­cerns raised about field at Tro­jan Sta­dium

Kent County News - - OPINION - By LEANN SCHENKE lschenke@thekent­coun­tynews.com

ROCK HALL — Dur­ing an Oct. 8 school board meet­ing, stu­dent mem­ber of the board Grace Boege ques­tioned if some­thing can be done to fix Kent County High School’s ath­letic field.

She said a stu­dent was re­cently in­jured be­cause of holes in the field. She asked what is “hold­ing us back” from fix­ing the field?

KCHS’s ath­letic field in Tro­jan Sta­dium was lev­eled and sod­ded in the sum­mer of 2017 in a joint ef­fort be­tween the Kent County govern­ment and Kent County Pub­lic Schools.

Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Couch said she has been in con­tact with the com­pany that orig­i­nally did work on the field be­cause there were con­cerns over the un­even­ness of it. She said she asked for some­one from the com­pany to come out and eval­u­ate it. She said she also asked if work needs to be done on the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem.

“Ul­ti­mately what came back to us was ‘Sorry the school is not sat­is­fied with the cur­rent field con­di­tions but as part of our con­tract, we were only re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing the sod and turf. It is the owner’s main­te­nance per­son­nel who are to ad­just, op­er­ate and main­tain the field,’” Couch said.

She said she was told the un­even­ness is be­cause of lack of main­te­nance. Ad­di­tion­ally the rough ar­eas are in ‘high traf­fic ar­eas.”

She said she also has been in con­tact with the dis­trict’s boost­ers pro­gram about what can be done to fix the field.

Joe Wheeler, KCPS su­per­vi­sor of op­er­a­tions, said he had com­pa­nies look at the field and was told it has the wrong type of sod for an ath­letic field. Cur­rently the grass type planted on the field is fes­cue, but it should be Bermuda grass.

How­ever, that change would cost $8,000, Wheeler said.

Couch said she was told the holes would be ad­dressed by plac­ing sand on the un­even ar­eas.

Wheeler said ap­ply­ing an 80 per­cent sand with 20 per­cent soil mix to the holes would be a tem­po­rary fix. A per­ma­nent fix would be killing off the cur­rent sod and seed Bermuda grass.

Couch said there is still a ques­tion of what to do in the mean­time.

Wheeler said he was told the field is still in play­ing con­di­tion with the holes filled in. He said this is the first time he has heard of some­one be­ing in­jured while play­ing on the field.

Boege said the stu­dent who was in­jured had to be pulled out for the rest of the game. She said train­ers said her in­juries were specif­i­cally due to holes on the field.

Couch said she has “no doubt” there is work that needs to be done on the field. She said the boost­ers sug­gested ad­dress­ing what im­me­di­ately needs to be done and then think about the long term.

She said the boost­ers have ded­i­cated money for the project and have re­ceived bids at $9,200 to fix the field. She said this so­lu­tion makes the field playable un­til May.

Couch said the thought of re­plac­ing the sod with Bermuda grass is a new de­vel­op­ment. She said there also was dis­cus­sion of re­plac­ing the ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem.

Wheeler said if Bermuda grass is put on the field, the cur­rent ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem or a drip sys­tem, will not be ad­e­quate.

How­ever Couch said she was en­cour­aged to use the drip sys­tem by the county be­cause of the iron con­tent of the wa­ter in Wor­ton. She said if an above ground sprin­kler sys­tem was in­stalled on the field, it would turn ev­ery­thing orange in­clud­ing the grass and track.

“We can call peo­ple to come in and they can give us their ex­pert opin­ion based on what they know, but they may not know all the de­tails,” Couch said. “I don’t want to just throw money at fix­ing some­thing if the peo­ple that are com­ing out and look­ing at the field don’t have the in­for­ma­tion.”

County Ad­min­is­tra­tor Shel­ley Heller, who at­tended the meet­ing, said the en­gi­neer who made the de­ci­sion about the ir­ri­ga­tion should be in the room to jus­tify why each de­ci­sion was made.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Heller said the iron con­tent in Wor­ton could clog sprin­klers as well as cause dis­col­oration.

Couch said she also ques­tioned if the sod in­stalled was from the same lots, be­cause the sod project had to be halted due to heavy rain. She said she was told sod from dif­fer­ent lots could con­trib­ute to the un­even­ness; how­ever, the com­pany that in­stalled the sod said that should not be an is­sue.

She said the sod com­pany told her the prob­lem is the school sys­tem’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to fix.

Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Tr­ish McGee said the board needs to fix the field re­gard­less of whose fault it is.

Com­mis­sioner Bill Short said the com­mis­sion­ers will help get the field fixed be­fore stu­dents get hurt.

“If it’s not right, bring it to us and we will pay for it to get fixed,” Short said.

Heller rec­om­mended hav­ing the en­gi­neer who worked on the field come in and eval­u­ate it.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Boege said there is an “arch” to the field. She said from play­ing on it, there are more holes than ever.

PHOTO BY TR­ISH MCGEE

The sta­dium field at Kent County High School, which was up­graded in 2017, needs to be re­paired, the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion was told at its meet­ing Mon­day. Our pho­to­graph was taken Tues­day.

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