By Steve Keenan
Officials expect Midland Trail High football fans to be able to watch the 2013 season opener against Independence while seated in new bleachers.
Stadium Solutions of Pittsburgh began work last week on a $138,750 contract to replace the seating, decking and railing of the bleachers at Patriot Stadium. The old bleachers were condemned earlier in 2013.
“The contractor has indicated that he feels he will make the agreed-upon Aug. 30 deadline,” said Ron Cantley II, the Fayette County school system’s operations director. “I’m optimistic.”
Cantley said Thursday the Midland Trail project — being paid for out of the school system’s maintenance budget — wouldn’t have happened without the cooperation of many. He mentioned specifically school representatives and volunteers, who demolished the old decking; the Fayette County Schools maintenance department and a Fayette County Day Report Center crew, both which painted; and Alpha Natural Resources, which performed fabrication and welding to reinforce the press box.
“Without cooperation and a community-wide team effort, this project would not be happening,” Cantley stressed.
Other projects to prepare for football season have included renovations at Fayetteville High School and WVU Tech’s Martin Field (home once again to the Valley Greyhounds).
At Fayetteville, maintenance funds were used for a $25,741 project that replaced some condemned bleachers, Cantley said. In addition, volunteers and day report center workers painted the fieldhouse at Fletcher Arritt Memorial Stadium. Various landscaping and clean-up work was performed, too, spearheaded by the Pirates’ football boosters club.
“(Their work was done) to mainly put some pride back in our school,” said Jenni Fenton, one of those who helped spruce up the stadium throughout the summer. They wanted to let the students know the boosters program supports them, she said.
Fenton said the boosters also solicited funds for and installed a new ice machine in the fieldhouse.
According to Cantley, the Fayette County Board of Education spent about $14,000 over the summer to supply materials to make repairs at Martin Field in Montgomery. After exploring other options in the off-season, it was decided that Valley would return to Tech this fall for high school and middle school contests.
The main repair work was replacing the taping for the yard lines, which has worn down considerably in many locations over the past few years as the artificial surface has aged.
Cantley said the board also contracted with a private company, Professional Sports Field Services, to evaluate the field’s safety by performing a Gmax concussion resistance test related to the padding.
“The field was deemed safe,” he said.
“Again, we’re optimistic the work will be completed by the agreed-upon deadline,” Cantley added.
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