TALLMANSVILLE — The Upshur County Board of Education voted to approve the installation of new turf for Freal Red Crites Memorial Stadium following the conclusion of the football season and to cover the costs using available funds from this year and next year.
The decision came after a 45-minute discussion that included B-UHS athletic director and assistant principal Rick Reynolds reviewing the project he had been looking into since July.
In looking at the turf replacement costs, the bottom line is $368,000, according to Reynolds. That includes a $30,000 discount for FieldTurf doing the work in their less busy season right after the football season is concluded.
“To date, we had $319,000 that has been collected off our tickets,” he said.
That leaves $48,000 that needed to be raised.
“After we did some preliminary numbers, to date this season we will be adding $14,957 to that so that takes the difference down to $33,000 that we have to come up with,” he said.
Reynolds said that is the $1 ticket sale surcharge from both high school and middle school sports.
“I took up our projection of the winter and spring sports,” he said. “It could be the possibility of another $14,000 added by the end of this year.”
That would bring the difference to $19,000 that would need to be paid.
But Reynolds said he would continue negotiations.
“Right now we have their insignia in the south end zone,” he said. Reynolds said he is in talks that FieldTurf would pay to have their logo on the new field.
Something different this time around is that lacrosse lines can be put on the turf that will be installed, instead of having to be painted by coaches.
The lines are embedded in the turf itself.
“You really won’t be able to see them very much from the bleachers, but when you are on the turf you can see them,” he said. “It also helps out with officiating for football and soccer where the different lines won’t confuse everyone.”
Reynolds presented three different designs — the first two show the difference between having the Buccaneer emblem versus the B-U emblem that is on the gym floor.
The design is pretty much the same as now except that every five yards is a different color – dark green or light green to resemble a mowing effect. There is no additional cost for that, according to Reynolds.
The third design is a cheaper option that takes off Buckhannon and Upshur from the two end zones that would save $16,000.
If the board of education went with turf design three, that would only leave a $3,000 difference to come up with, according to Reynolds.
“We are really, really close,” he said.
Board member Dr. Greenbrier Almond asked, “From a standpoint of sportsmanship and enthusiasm, what is the difference between seeing Buckhannon and Upshur on the field versus not on the field?”
Reynolds replied, “Up until about a month ago, I would have said ‘I don’t know. It just says Buckhannon Upshur.’ But in talking to community members and people in the press box, there is a significance why they have that.
“If you look in the north end zone it says Buckhannon and in the south end zone it says Upshur. It is about the two high schools coming together. That gets you a little sentimental. I’m not from B-U but I think you have to respect that. That is how it was explained to me why it was done the way it was. I thought that was pretty impressive.”
Reynolds said, “All three designs I think are great. The cost of one and two could be a factor.”
Board president Dr. Tammy Samples asked if the turf replacement could wait another year.
Reynolds said that could be decided in the spring when the representative comes back but noted that the black that is coming up on the turf now is a sign that the turf has reached the end of its life.
The turf was dedicated before the first home game of the 2007 season making this the 11th season it has been played on.
“What they are telling me now, is they would have to take a little fill out to keep that base so you don’t see the rubber itself,” he said. “For them to lower that to make it look better, that becomes unsafe,” he said.
Reynolds brought samples of three different turfs but said he favors a combination of two turfs that would last about 10 to 12 years. The athletic director has traveled to various high schools in the region to look at the different types of turf.
The three turf types offer no difference in price.
Another savings results from the infrastructure under the turf not having to be redone.
“What we have in our system is called a nine-pound system,” he said. “When people did this the first time, I applaud them because they did it right. They talked about the different systems they could put in. There’s a nine-pound system, a six-pound system and one in between that.”
Reynolds said that forethought is helping keep the costs down this time by saving almost $30,000, according to Reynolds.
They can reuse some of our in-fill already,” he said.
But Samples noted that even with all the discounts, there was still not quite enough money to cover the costs.
Business manager George Carver said B-UHS principal Eddie Vincent has indicated he could make as much as $10,000 available to make up the difference from the high school.
“That would be Mr. Vincent’s decision,” Carver said.
Another option would be to dedicate next year’s surcharge to the fund — pay for it this year but move the money from that account for next year.
“We are this close, I think we can figure out a way to come up with the money over time,” he said.
Much of the discussion focused on having Buckhannon Upshur on the end zones or not and the savings that would result from that. But in the end, the board members decided to proceed with the design that would include Buckhannon Upshur on the end zones.
Samples said, “I keep coming back to the fact that the community built this. That Buckhannon Upshur is a vital part of that. It’s really hard for me to say ‘take it off.’ It’s $16,000 but the heart of the community built this.”
Martin said he did not have a preference about what was in the center — the B-U or the Buccaneer — but noted a significant savings of not having Buckhannon Upshur on the end zones.
“I’m looking at $16,000; I know any school would say I would love $16,000,” he said.
But Samples said the money could not be redirected from the turf fund.
“I just think if we take that off we do a disservice to the community,” she said. “A community that supports us in everything.”
Almond asked about the possibility of raising the additional amount, but Reynolds said he has not had any donors come forward.
Reynolds said he was hesitant about soliciting funds because of how much the community had donated 10 years ago and would rather try to cover the funds with what was available.
After some more discussion, Almond made a motion to proceed with the project which was seconded by Martin and passed unanimously. Board vice president Alan Suder and board member Katie Loudin were not present.
Reynolds added that he would continue negotiations with FieldTurf to keep the costs as low as possible.