School Board Votes for $1M Turf Fix, Other Repairs Following Tornado Damage

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A school district in Arkansas will be upgrading some of its sports facilities after the assets sustained significant damage in a tornado earlier this year. 

The Jessieville School Board voted last week to upgrade part of its football and track facilities, which were damaged Jan. 2 in the severe weather, as reported by the Sentinel-Record on Saturrday. 

Board leaders chose to put in artificial turf, at a cost of $1,030,381, instead of a grass field, which would have cost Jessieville $200,000, excluding the irrigation cost to repair the outdated watering system which sustained damage.

We would go in and cut 1 inch of sod off the field, laser grade, new subsurface and put super rolls of turf down," Moser Construction project manager Jay Davis said, the newspaper reported. "The drawback to that is they said, 'I can get you the grass down, laser graded but if you play on it this coming football season you will have to replace the sod when you get done.'"

Moser Construction was chosen as the contractor for all the facilities that needed repair. Davis was in attendance to give insight to the board on all of the projects.

"That is the low price we have, including the additional cost of concrete in the D-Zones," Davis said. "The fill that would be required in D-Zones and extending the drain structure. Everything that has to be done to get it ready for the dirt. This is bringing the field up to track elevation."

Since the grass field was not covered by the school district's insurance, the money for the new football surface are coming from Jessieville's renovations account. 

Although it comes at a higher price tag, switching to artificial turf will mean the field can be ready to use for the upcoming 2023 football season, and Jessieville is expected to save $170,000 in field maintenance over the next 10 years.

GeoSport and Hellas have submitted bids for the project.

The school district has plans to sell sponsorships on its new field to recoup some of the cost.

"We are not going to get a million dollars, but we will be able to recoup a little bit of that from them in sponsorships," Jessieville superintendent Melissa Speers said. "Right now, we do not like anybody on our field during season. They do not practice on it. With this you can have PE, practice and band can march on it and you are not worried about protecting the surface of your field for Friday nights."

The new track, goalposts, visitors' side bleachers, field lights, scoreboard, fencing, press box and concessions building were also damaged in the tornado. Jessieville was near completion of its new track when the storm hit.

The track is covered under the school's insurance policy and will cover the full amount of replacing the track's surface. The cost will be $302,698, the Sentinel-Record reported. 

The Jessieville track teams have been using parking lots and traveling to Lakeside on occasions so their practices are not interrupted.

"At this point the field is guaranteed to be in by July 1," Davis said. "July 1 to Aug. 1 we want to be able to put the track down. We have to build mats across to get all this dirt we have to bring in. We will have to bridge and mat the track. It is going to limit what you can do until you get the turf down. Then you can go out and start the track."

The cost to replace the visitor-side bleachers will run at $258,431, and the insurance adjuster is still working on what the insurance will cover out of that damage. Stadium Pros is the vendor that will supply the materials for the bleachers, and they should arrive in July.

Moser will remove the rubber surface and laser the asphalt to determine whether or not areas need to be replaced. Moser will resurface the track with the same type of surface and will install new goalposts.

"Everyone we had bids from was going to purchase from Stadium Pros," Speers said. "So, we are just going direct to Stadium Pro to get those. The price that Stadium Pros is giving just covers the bleachers."

Jessieville will be erecting a new prefabricated press box located in the same spot as the old press box, with the cost at $296,263 and the insurance money yet to be determined.

Jessieville also has bids from Rainey Electronics, Ace Sports, Central Arkansas Sports and Hellas for its new scoreboard. "These numbers do not include anything with the electrical, substrate work, fees or bonds," Davis said. "Those will be added in. This is strictly for the scoreboard."

Jessieville will need to replace the lights around the stadium at a cost of $376,343, and the district's insurance is covering $270,868. GeoSport has the current low bid on the project, and the lighting should be installed in July. 

The concessions building was insured for $120,450, and the cost to repair the existing structure is $120,450. A new prefabricated replacement would run Jessieville $583,440, so the board voted to repair the existing building, the Sentinel-Record reported. 

All repairs and upgrades are expected to be finished by Aug. 1.

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