BOE OKs stadium upgrades

COVINGTON -- The Newton County School System continues to plan for more improvements at Homer Sharp Stadium.

During a combined work session and regular session meeting this month, the Newton County Board of Education approved a recommendation from NCSS Superintendent Steven Whatley for renovations to the field at the stadium.

Whatley recommended the low bid of $234,217.53 from Athletic Construction Inc. in Oakwood, which bid $105,732 lower than the highest bid and $85,166 lower than the next lowest bid. It is funded through SPLOST III capital outlay funds, which were previously approved by taxpayers in a special election and only can be used for projects identified at that time.

"(The company) has a strong reputation for their work in Georgia," Whatley said in his recommendation to the board. "Tony Strickland, the owner and president of the company, brings 30-plus years experience in field management, maintenance and construction experience. He has done extensive work with several schools systems, colleges, recreation departments, the Atlanta Falcons training camp in Flowery Branch and also the Gwinnett Braves stadium in Lawrenceville."

Work to the field includes shifting it closer to the home side because of its close proximity to the visitors side, placing a drainage system under the entire field and repairing the crowned area near the center of the field.

System officials previously said they plan to bid out the final phase of the stadium improvements, which include enhancements to the ticket booths and fencing and the erection of a new paver wall, in February or March.

NCSS Deputy Superintendent for Operations Dennis Carpenter said all of the stadium and field work is expected to be complete prior to the beginning of the 2010-11 football season in the fall.

Also in NCSS, the school board approved during the monthly meeting a recommendation from Whatley for Springfield Baptist Church to improve and update sound and lighting in the Porter Auditorium at Newton High School for approximately $35,000.

"The work is scheduled to be completed before the first scheduled use of facility, which is the first Sunday in February," Carpenter said. "The improvements will become the property of the Newton County School System, thus Newton High School and the district will have full use of the improvements."