County athletic facilities get upgrades
Across Franklin County, schools are getting some much–needed upgrades to their athletic facilities. Some upgrades are very visible; others are less visible but certainly felt. Most all, however, are born out of necessity.
“I am very happy with the upgrades to our athletic facilities,” said Franklin County Superintendent of Education Greg Hamilton. “I want to make sure our student-athletes have the best facilities possible. There are more upgrades and new facilities to come. Finally, we are beginning to see some projects come to fruition.”
One of the most visible projects already in use is the new baseball facility located just south of the Belgreen school campus. The Bulldogs’ new facility boasts an artificial turf infield, press box and big blue scoreboard looming in left center field.
This new facility will allow the old baseball field, located just next to the Belgreen gym, to be converted into additional parking for the school and basketball games.
Adjacent to the new baseball field, work has begun on a new track and football field being funded through a private donation.
At Phil Campbell, upgrades have been made to the softball facility – in part, just to make it playable. The lights had become inoperable, forcing the team to play day games. The lights were replaced and made operational, allowing the school to schedule games that would continue late into the evening. Also at the softball facility, the concession stand was renovated, steps to the press box were replaced, new fencing was erected, and the parking lot paved.
At the Phil Campbell baseball facility, all of the dirt work was resurfaced to grade, including the pitcher’s mound.
Also at Phil Campbell, a 60-yard turf practice field was installed just beyond the goal post of the south endzone. The previous location of the practice field is being cleared for a new library at the elementary school.
Additionally, volleyball lines were added to the Phil Campbell gymnasium for the newly–formed volleyball team.
At Tharptown, the biggest project is a new press box/concession stand with restrooms at the baseball/softball facility.
This has been a major need at Tharptown for years. The clocks had to be run out of the dugouts; the old concession stand was a dilapidated mobile unit; and the closest restrooms were a long walk to the football field.
Also at Tharptown, the track around the football field, which was deteriorating rapidly, has been repaved, and the gym floor was stripped down to the wood and redesigned.
At Red Bay, a new gym floor replaced one that had sustained serious water damage, and the softball field was resurfaced similar to Phil Campbell’s baseball field.
At Vina, lights were replaced at the softball field and air conditioning was added to the gym.
At East Franklin, a new gym is being built to replace the old gym that was not regulation length and too small to accommodate spectators and cheerleaders for both teams.
Air conditioning has also been installed in the elementary gyms at Tharptown and Phil Campbell and old gym at East Franklin.
“We are working as hard as we can to get these projects completed in a timely manner,” said Hamilton. “Unfortunately, in some cases, we have run into delays that are out of our hands. They are the same type of delays everyone one else around the state is running into.”
Hamilton said labor and supply shortages, which affected nearly every building project around the state, have also stalled local athletic projects. Also, governmental red tape and failed inspections can delay any project funded through the state between 60–90 days.