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BI, Liberty may dig into new turf
BI field
Rendition of the Bradwell High football field with new turf.

The grass fields at Bradwell Institute’s Olvey Field/ Hokey Jackson Stadium and Liberty County High School’s Donell Woods Stadium/Kirk Warner Field may be getting their final cut.

School system officials are proposing replacing the grass at both venues with artificial surfaces. Similar surfaces have been installed at the baseball and softball fields at both high schools.

Arnold Jackson, director of operations for the school system, told Liberty County Board of Education members that the synthetic surfaces installed at Bradwell and Liberty County’s baseball and softball fields have “exceeded district expectations.”

“It has reduced maintenance costs significantly,” Jackson said of the synthetic playing surfaces. “It requires less maintenance. It doesn’t refreeze and thin out.”

Should school board members approve the work at their next meeting, the last event to be held on the original surfaces at each field will be the May graduations. After that, contractors will begin putting in the new synthetic surfaces and should be done by the start of football season, Jackson said.

Especially for football season, when coaches can spend several hours marking the lines on the field each week, those lines will be in place and won’t need repainting, Jackson pointed out.

“They are excited about it,” Jackson said of the respective coaching staffs’ reaction to the potential new fields. “They can’t wait to get it done.”

There also will be markings on the field for soccer season, and each field will have the name of the field placed on the surface. Cooling pellets also will reduce the temperature of the playing surface, during hotter weather, by as much as 35 degrees, Jackson said. Additional cooling pellets will be provided by the contractor.

The new surfaces will have a 10-year warranty. They also can be used by the soccer teams, the various football teams and the bands without the need for recovery time for the surface.

Jackson said studies on player safety as a result of moving from grass to the new synthetic surfaces have been inconclusive and pointed out more and more high schools and colleges are using those the new artificial turf.

The new playing surface has to be sanitized twice a year, Jackson added.

In addition to the new surface, Liberty County High’s football field will have an eight-lane track encircling it. A geotechnical engineering survey revealed unsuitable soil underneath the field, and a stabilization soil mix has been recommended before the track is installed. That bad soil has increased the cost of putting in the track by $1.1 million, for a total cost of $3.3 million for the work at LCHS.

The total cost for the fields is expected to be $4.78 million and will be covered by education special local option sales tax proceeds.

Liberty turf
Rendition of the Liberty County High football field with new turf.
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