Board May Fund VHS Field Improvements
Valley High School’s athletic facilities could see some much-needed improvements if the Wetzel County Board of Education approves of a proposal presented to them on April 21.
Director of Ancillary Services Brian Jones; Director of Curriculum and Instruction, Pre-K, and Title I Shane Highley; and Treasurer Jeff Lancaster presented ideas to the board for facility upgrades, as well as photos highlighting the issues with the current facility.
Jones stated that three to four years ago, the bleachers that are currently on VHS’s home side of the football field were actually on the visitors’ side. However, the bleachers on the home side of the field, along with the press box, slipped downhill. These were removed by the boosters, and the visitors’ side bleachers were then moved to the home side.
Jones stated that the visitors’ side bleachers, as they exist now, are portable five-row bleachers that are utilized for baseball.
Furthermore, VHS’s football field is always slightly soggy from hillside water runoff, which comes from several natural springs located behind the home bleachers and the press box. Jones showed photographs of natural running water even in the middle of winter.
“This is just one spot on the hillside,” Jones stated. “This is one of multiple spots. That’s just runoff from the ground coming from springs, and it’s all over the place up there.” Jones stated that the proposal would include using a French drain system to rectify the situation. Jones added that an easement has been secured from the property owner.
Further photos showed chicken wire in place to prevent spectators and coaches from walking in the front portion of the press box, since there is no railing. Also, Jones stated that the board invested $40,000 into a fence approximately three years ago. The fence is located behind the press box; however, it is also slipping down the hillside.
Jones also showed what he called a “rickety old metal ladder leaning against the light tower to turn on the 25-second clock.” Jones stated that, additionally, some of the speakers don’t operate.
A photograph was also provided of a telephone pole that is currently leaning about 30 to 35 degrees to the side.
“You see a lot of standing water in these photos,” Jones remarked. “It had been dry for a couple of days. The water is just constantly running . . .” Of a specific photo, Jones remarked “it just really shows the bank slipping.”
Jones stated that plans include pouring concrete into several of the soggy places that lead to the bleachers and make them handicapped accessible.
“These conditions that you are looking at are really what I would not like visiting teams to see, to say that this is a portion of Wetzel County . . . This is a representation of Wetzel County Schools. This is less than what it should be. We would just like to make it a better facility.”
“The only thing that worries me is the hillsides,” noted Board President Mike Blair. “I’d hate to see us dump a portion of money there and then come every year and do it again . . . Hopefully the person doing the work understands that, that we are not wanting to dump a bunch of money to go back and fix the slip year after year after year.”
Of the facilities, Patterson stated, “It is an embarrassment . . . It’s unacceptable.”
“It’s bad when you can’t leave without wet feet,” Board member Linda Kirk stated.
It was mentioned to turn the football field around to get it away from the hillside, but Jones stated that it might’ve been a possibility prior to renovations to the baseball field. “Now we’ve invested a sizable amount there,” he said.