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Board of Education Discusses New Football Field, Northfork High School Update

By Derek Tyson, The Welch News Editor

WELCH, WV – The McDowell County Board of Education met Monday via Zoom, hoping the next meeting could return to the Phoenix Center as usual.

“The Governor said the crowd size is now 25 people,” said Superintendent Carolyn Falin. “Would you like to move back to the Phoenix Center. 25, we’ve never had that many but we could assign seating to adhere to social distancing.”

The Board agreed.

After approving a number of various policies, discussion of Mount View’s football field broke out.

“Hopefully this week, the field turf part will be finished,” said Falin. “All we have left to do is get the old bleachers moved up there and the remaining costs we have will be for AEP to install the electricity as well as move the old scoreboard up there.”

Falin said she had negotiated a price with AEP of approximately $50,000 for their service.

“The other thing left will be to put the paving around the field,” said Falin. “We’re currently negotiating and trying to get the cost down.

Will Chapman, Director of Maintenance and Safety, updated the Board on the details.

“The bleachers are being moved now. Then we’ll have to lay conduit and dig up all that around the track, get the lights moved. Then we’ll put fence posts up and then pave. The fence will be put up after that,” said Chapman.

Until that time, Chapman insisted that temporary fencing be placed around the field.

“We’ve had several reports after hours of people being out on the field and we don’t need that happening,” said Chapman.

Board member Mike Callaway questioned Chapman about possibly accommodating a multi-lane track around the new field.

“On the paving, I know there probably isn’t much room for an Olympic style track with 8 to 10 lanes like they have,” said Callaway. “But is there any possibility that later on we could put in a track with 6 lanes?”

“We have probably 80 percent of the track at the proper width and the proper radius curves for those,” said Chapman. “The end next to the school would have to be widened out a bit to get 8 lanes in but we left room for all that, six lanes for sure.”

Regulations for proper tracks require neoprene rubber and proper drainage, according to Chapman, who estimated the cost at $800,000.

“Well I think we’ll stick with the 100 thousand dollar paving for now,” said Falin with a laugh.

“The paving we’re going to do will pretty much suffice for the underlay of a track. The only thing we would have to do is add drainage to the inside edges. To do that now, we would probably be looking at another 100 thousand dollars before we could pave. I don’t know where we could scratch up the funds to do that.”

Another requirement is that the track be sloped at 1 degree towards the field, said Chapman.

“We’re going to try to do all that the best we can without hurting the drainage there,” said Chapman.

“But if we got a track team we could expand later,” asked Falin.

According to Chapman, in the straight aways of the track, the width is 27 or 28 feet.

“That’ll be six lanes at least, real close to maybe getting 8. Most tracks you look at, some are expansive with a lot of room,” said Chapman. “But a lot of them are tucked right against fence lines. There’s some flexibility there. A lot of variances as far as straight away distances and all that stuff.”

The track could also be covered with regular asphalt but it the school would be unable to host sectional or regional tournament track meets without the neoprene track.

“I was shocked at how expensive the regulation track was,” said Chapman. “It could hit a million dollars easily.”

Falin also asked for an update on Northfork High School’s approaching demolition.

“They have not began demoliton, but they have done probably 70% of asbestos work in the school part of the building,” said Chapman.

Due to the COVID-19 forcing many State employees to work from home, Chapman said the demolition crew was slow in receiving an oversized load permit to transport equipment to the Northfork site.

The next McDowell County Board of Education meeting will be held on May 18th at the Phoenix Center at 10:30 a.m., limited to 25 people.