Warrior Club proposes turf for baseball field

By BETH BUNCH,

The Oak Grove High School baseball field may be truly in the green year-round if members of the Warrior Club get the OK to proceed with putting turf on Harry Breland field. They also want to replace the turf on the football field, which has exceeded its life by four years.

Currently, Sumrall High School is the only baseball complex in the Lamar County School District that sports turf, and OGHS is the only school which has turf on its football field.

Sean Little, representing the Warrior Club, spoke to members of the Lamar County School District board last week seeking permission for the two capital improvements at OGHS.

The project would be broken down into two phases.

Phase 1 would entail replacing the stadium turf at Oak Grove.

“I reference it as stadium turf because while it is a football stadium, it’s not used just by the football team, but for a multitude of student activities including athletes, band, the community and the list goes on and on,” Little said. “We request the school board’s guidance, because we don’t want to proceed with a project without the board’s permission, and certainly not without your guidance.”

Little said the club would also like to be able to counsel with the school board attorney for both contractural and compliance guidance.

“We want to make sure we stay in compliance in any project we do as a Warrior Club,” Little said, also requesting the district provide an architect or engineer to provide services for overseeing these projects to ensure they are done right, if the project is allowed to go forward.

Little explained that the turf currently on Oak Grove’s football field was installed in 2006.

“The average lifespan is 8 to 10 years and we are near 12,” he said. “We’ve all been very fortunate it has lasted that long. I believe the county, Warrior Club and everybody involved has gotten their money’s worth out of those facilities.”

Little, citing the benefits of turf, said in day-to-day operations you don’t think about the upkeep and maintenance that are additional costs when you don’t have a turf surface, including lost revenue and lost opportunities.

“The need for the turf for the stadium is great,” he said. “It’s time and probably a little past time. But we’ve been able to make it work and it’s worked well. Because of safety and other benefits, it’s time for consideration for that to be done.”

Phase 2 would include putting turf on the baseball field “for all the same benefits – safety and maximum field usage, which is a key element in our opinion for the facility, especially to get the maximum usage out of that facility,” Little said.

“The net benefit is it’s a premiere facility, a spotlight for LCSD to have such and we are willing to help however we can to make that happen.”

Little said the Warrior Club was requesting permission to move forward with the two phases. “We would request your decision based on each phase to give us an idea how to move forward with what we are trying to accomplish in concert with you. This is not our project; we want it to be OUR project. We want you to be very much involved in it.”

 

Little assured the board that the Warrior Club would not start any projects without full funding. “We will not start any projects that can’t be completed,” Little said. “So, if there are any reservations at the board level, that won’t happen. Experience is a great thing.”

The turf for the football field is classified as Phase 1 because of the primary and urgent need to get it replaced. “Season wise it also makes sense to do Phase 1 before 2,” Little explained. The installation for stadium turf would take about six to eight weeks to install.

 “We would hope we could start by June 1,” said Little. “That’s the best case scenario. That gives us a little time to decide (on the final product), and to do some fundraising and have that in place.

Little said that club members wanted to be able to dissect the bids and do more research in conjunction with the school board, architect and engineer on the products available.

“We want something better than what we have,” he said, nothing that technology has changed a good bit in the last 12 years and the bids have some additional features.

“We may not have an eight-year product if we don’t maintain it properly, whereas 12 years ago we didn’t have that option. Technology has come a long way. Unfortunately, the new turf will also only have an eight-year warranty. That hasn’t changed. They only go so far in their liability.”

 “We’ll be able to put a dollar figure to the project once an architect and engineer are brought in as they usually charge a fee based on total cost,” Little said, noting the need to also have a goal for fundraising. “As WC volunteer members, it’s not in our best interest or your best interest to be making decisions on how much money should be funded and at what time. That should be done by a professional who does that every day, based on completion of work.”

Turf pulled up from the football field will be repurposed in Building 2 located between the field house and the volleyball field, according to Little.

“When that was built, it was designed to have an indoor facility for maximum use – cheerleaders and whoever needs to use this very large facility,” Little said. “The turf on the field now will be repurposed for that building, so it is a multiple benefit project. I also believe part of the turf will be used for some sideline training opportunities, so everywhere we can repurpose, we’ll repurpose. And everywhere we can save money, we are certainly going to save money.”

The board did not take any action during the meeting.

According to Superintendent Tess Smith, prior to the April meeting, set for 6 p.m. Monday, April 8, at Purvis Lower Elementary School Library, she plans to ask that the time be placed on the board meeting agenda for a decision.

“As Mr. Little indicated, they need to know the board's decision, so they can decide what to do next,” Smith Said. “I appreciate all of our booster organizations throughout the district and the work that they do. Warrior Club is unique as they oversee all athletics/programs at OGHS. We could not do everything that we do in this district without the assistance of our boosters and parent volunteer groups.”