Jasper City Schools investing in athletics, safety

By NICOLE SMITH
Posted 6/14/19

Some things will look a little different when students return to schools in Jasper City this August.The next major undertaking for the Jasper City Board of Education will be the installation of …

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Jasper City Schools investing in athletics, safety

Posted

Some things will look a little different when students return to schools in Jasper City this August.

The next major undertaking for the Jasper City Board of Education will be the installation of synthetic turf at Jasper High School's baseball field. School board members approved the project on May 24.

Turfing the baseball field will come on the heels of the turf project underway at the nearby football field. Work on both fields has been necessary, due to culvert issues that caused standing water and impacted the integrity of both playing surfaces.

"The baseball field is much like the football field," Superintendent Dr. Ann Jackson told the Daily Mountain Eagle on Tuesday. "Even though we're doing an extensive amount of work over there, it's still in a low-lying area. We've looked at that, and we've looked at the cost-effectiveness of turf versus grass."

Experts that have spoken at past board meetings said there can be cost savings by maintaining turf, instead of grass. Other times, school systems break even with the cost of maintaining turf or grass on playing fields.

Jasper High baseball coach Pat Ware explained to board members at a May 20 meeting that the baseball field's deteriorating conditions resulted in the baseball team losing home games and revenue last year.

"We had a very good team, and a lot of people didn't get to see it," Ware said.

Jackson said an architect will have to draw up plans for the baseball field before bidding for the project can begin, but the field is expected to be turfed and ready for play for the upcoming baseball season.

Russ Russell of Warner's Athletic Construction previously told the school board the cost for the baseball field's turf project could range from $800,000 to $1 million. Russell said the school system can expect at least 13 years out of their turf investment.

Jackson provided an update on the football field turf project from Russell. He said the field will receive hash marks, a Viking head and end zone lettering soon, depending on temperatures.

"We will be totally complete with the surface by the end of next week, as long as the weather will cooperate during sand/rubber infilling," he said on Tuesday. "At that point, we will have the triangle irrigation and sod to install and then fencing to complete, as well as cleanup and miscellaneous repairs."

Russell expects the project will be finished by the end of the month.   

"As is evident, we have had a lot of deferred maintenance on our athletic facilities and have gone to great extents the last several years to try to get to a place where we could do some pretty significant deferred maintenance and repairs, replacements, and different things," Jackson said. "That's just part of this overall plan of renovating our existing fields."

In addition to improvements at athletic facilities, Jackson said heat pumps will be installed at some schools over the summer, and restrooms will be updated at T.R. Simmons Elementary School.

Repairs needed on all school campuses will be addressed as well.  

"Pretty much all schools are getting some form of renovation or update. We have a pretty significant list of capital improvements," Jackson said. "We won't be able to get to all of them, so we are trying to prioritize. Certainly, heating and air would be a priority."

Enhancing the safety of the school system's nearly 2,800 students is also a primary order of business. Cameras in all school buses are being upgraded as a safety measure.

The school system is also considering the purchase of another school bus.