Concerns raised about field at Trojan Stadium
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.
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.