$371,000 to be spent on athletic facilities

Published 12:35 pm Friday, May 27, 2011

Capital spending to improve athletic facilities at Vicksburg’s secondary schools got the OK Thursday night, with spending of $371,000 approved by trustees of the Vicksburg Warren School District.

Nearly $230,000 will be spent to refurbish gym floors at Vicksburg High School, Vicksburg Junior High and Warren Central Junior High, and replace bleachers at VHS. The remainder will go to enlarge and update the football field house at Warren Central High School.

Trustees voted unanimously for the gym floor project, and split 4-1 on the fieldhouse addition, with District 3 Trustee Jim Stirgus Jr. dissenting.

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Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Swinford included the projects on her list of priorities for facility improvements the board approved last fall.

The VHS gym floor project was set to be awarded to a low bidder in April, but the board pulled the bid and readvertised it to add the necessary work to the junior highs as well, Swinford said.

Low bidder was Covington Floors: $143,000 for floors, $87,000, bleachers.

The contract for the WCHS field house was awarded to low bidder David Smith Construction, with a total bid cost of $160,186.

Besides an addition, new showerheads, new lockers and various other upgrades will be done, she said.

Stirgus suggested that the WCHS field house addition was more a “want” than a “need,” and that the VJHS fieldhouse, which he said was infested with rats, needed to be cleaned up.

Swinford countered that all of the district’s athletic field houses had been inspected prior to her recommendation for WCHS and no reports of rats at the junior high school had been made.

“It’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said athletic director Lum Wright.

Football field houses at both the high schools need refurbishing, Swinford said. Warren Central’s can be expanded, but there is not enough room to add on to Vicksburg High’s, she said.

That project, likely requiring the building to be gutted and completely redone, will require more work at a much higher cost so will be put off another year, Swinford said.

Cost of the projects will be paid from the capital improvement budget, largely funded by the district’s share of casino gaming revenues.

Swinford had presented a list of nine proposed projects to the board in September, including the athletic facilities as well as replacing parts of the visitor stands at the VHS stadium and replacing carpet with tile at several elementary schools.

Larger projects which could disrupt attendance and activities, such as creating a safer and more efficient turn-around and parking lot at VJHS, will be done this summer, she said in an interview apart from the board meeting.

Another priority project the board approved, removing or covering asbestos materials in the Grove Street School auditorium, will be a much more involved and expensive process and has not yet been scheduled, she said.

Prior to the business portion of the meeting, Swinford recognized 14 students with the superintendent’s Turnaround Award, given to recognize their effort in improving grades, behavior, attitude and getting along with peers and staff.

“I had such a sense of pride when I heard some of the stories, and that inspired this award,” Swinford said.