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Officials doubt field will be ready

Will the new Letcher County Central High School softball field be ready in time for the first home game of the season? Two board members don’t think so, but the construction manager does.

Charlie Thompson, construction manager of the softball field project, told the Letcher County Board of Education on March 27 that depending on weather, he thinks the field, which is located adjacent to the Letcher County Area Technology Center, could be ready by April 12, which is the softball team’s home opener.

“Since the last board meeting we have made very good progress,” said Thompson.

Painting is complete at the press box and floor tiling was to begin this week, Thompson said. Bleachers are to be installed and windows are to arrive soon.

Getting the sod laid on the field has been a concern of the board since January. Because of inclement weather, Thompson said workers have gotten five days in as far as sod is concerned since the last board meeting and two more weeks of working days are needed to lay the sod.

“If we have good weather from now until then, we can make it,” he said. “We can get the sod on the field.”

Letcher County Public Schools Supt. Anna Craft suggested a way to dry the field.

“In my foolish ideas, could you not take some big mining fans, run power to them and if it is not pouring the rain outside have those things centered on that field and let it dry out enough (to lay sod)?” asked Craft.

Terry Sturgill, director of special projects, told the board that the school district has at least four large fans that can be placed by the field to help dry up the mud and water. Sturgill said wind will also help dry up the field.

“If anyone has a direct line to Mother Nature, please call her because we need to get her away from here,” said Sturgill.

Board Member Will Smith said the sod isn’t his only concern.

“There is no way in the world with as much work as they’ve got to do up there that we can play a ballgame up there April 12,” said Smith. “There are all kinds of things that have got to be done up there. I just don’t see it.”

Smith said he looked at the softball field on March 27 and saw loose wires and other unfinished projects.

“It just seems like nothing is getting done up there to me,” he said. “I have seen very little progress since last meeting.”

Thompson said where there has been a lot of wet weather, work was done inside the concession stand and press box.

“You got some but there is a lot left like the wiring stuck in those buildings,” said Smith. “There are wires hanging there that have never been hooked up. There’s a lot of stuff to do there yet. Then we’ve got to fence that field and put sod down.”

Thompson said materials for the fence is on site, and all of the wires are complete and will be put in a nice neat box.

“I don’t think there is any way we will play a ball game on April 12,” said Smith.

Craft said the softball coach has talked to other coaches and they are willing to switch the location of the games if the field isn’t ready when the season starts.

She asked that if workers miss two days during the week because of bad weather, that they work on Saturday.

“They need to get in a 40-hour week,” said Craft.

Sturgill said Mountain Enterprise’s blacktopping plant opens April 15 and that blacktopping can begin after that.

Board Chairman Robert Kiser suggested during the meeting that he and Smith look at the field first.

“Let’s go up there and make sure that everything that can be completed due to the weather is still getting completed,” said Kiser.

After Kiser toured the construction site with Smith, Kiser said that he, too, is frustrated with how much is left to be completed. Kiser said there is work left to be done concerning the press box and concession stand.

“Some of the construction work could be completed sooner,” said Kiser.

Kiser did say those who were working March 28 were working hard.

The $2.4 million project also includes two tennis courts and a golf putting green and driving range. The final completion date has been pushed back to April 26.

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