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South Bend Tribune (Indiana)


MISHAWAKA — Fans who watch the Penn High School Kingsmen compete in football games later this year will notice eye-popping upgrades at the stadium.

Workers will soon break ground on a $1 million-plus project that calls for several improvements at TCU Freed Field: a new entrance with ticket center, a windscreen spanning the back of bleachers, new stairs, lighting upgrades and a bar fence that will surround nearly half of the site and feature brick pillars.

The Penn-Harris-Madison School Corp. board of trustees awarded the $1.1 million contract for the project on Monday to the Robert Henry Corp. of South Bend, which submitted the lowest of five bids received from contractors. Work will start in early May and is expected to conclude by the end of July, before football games start.

The main entrance will be relocated away from a parking lot to increase safety and allow people to enter the stadium more smoothly, said Denise Seger, the corporation's associate superintendent. It will still be on the east side but will be farther to the north, where more room is available.

"This will provide a safer area where someone can stand while they're waiting and not in the parking lot. And it will be well-lit," she said. "We're trying to enhance the stadium's appearance, but we're also looking at the safety component."

An artificial turf field was installed at the stadium in 2010. But Seger said that improvements have otherwise been limited during the past 15 years.

The project could have been done in phases, she said, but officials instead decided to get all of the improvements done in one season.

Seger said the project was awarded for roughly $75,000 to $100,000 more than anticipated. She attributed that to the project's tight timetable and the high local demand for construction projects.

"There's more work for folks, and they can be more selective with projects they do," she said.

Trustees decided earlier this year to sell about $7.2 million in low-interest bonds to pay for the corporation's summer projects, including work done at the stadium. The bonds, which will be paid back to investors by the end of 2021, will cover the cost of maintenance work at several buildings.

In other business on Monday, the board approved an agreement to buy laptops that will be used next school year by incoming middle schoolers starting sixth grade and high schoolers starting ninth grade.

The contract, totaling about $295,000, calls for the purchase of 1,900 laptops for $155 apiece. The corporation received a low-interest, five-year loan from the Indiana Department of Education to cover the cost.

Incoming middle schoolers and high schoolers at P-H-M receive new laptops each year.

Laptops given back to the corporation by outgoing seniors and eighth-graders are used for different purposes. Some are used as loaners and for spare parts, for example, and others replace older laptops in elementary schools. The laptops are also used by elementary school families who need them.



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April 21, 2017


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