Overton ISD talks stadium, gym concerns

A local resident peppered Overton Independent School District trustees with some direct questions concerning ongoing campus building projects Monday night at the regular monthly board meeting.

Shane McCasland, who has three children enrolled in the district and a nephew who competes in varsity athletics, asked several questions on campus construction projects.

McCasland stressed that he wasn’t trying to provoke board members.

“I’m not trying to get on to anybody or stab someone in the back,” he said. “I just want to give you an opportunity to respond to some of the concerns that the parents and residents have raised about this project […] to allow you to correct any of the misunderstandings or rumors that might be floating around out there.”

The main concern McCasland brought up was the new sets of bleachers installed.

“It seems like we went from 10 rows [on the home side] down to eight rows,” he said. “What plans do we have to address seating in the event that there’s not enough for those that come to football games?”

Scotty Moore, board president, explained that the addition of chairbacks to the reserved seating section changed the amount of available rows for seating.

“But the amount of seating will remain the same,” Moore added.

George DeJohn, project manager from Claycomb & Associates, noted the capacity of the stands remains the same, even though the bleachers are shorter, because the bleachers extend further down the sidelines than previously.

“We actually increased from 520 seats to 750,” said Overton ISD Superintendent Alan Umholtz.

Board member Scott Florey mentioned the possibility of additional seating being installed in the future, possibly near the end zones, but that discussions on such a project would come after current renovations are complete.

McCasland asked about access to the concession stands for both the home and visitor sides of the stadium.

DeJohn explained that the home side would access the concession stands from the rear of the bleachers, as well as the set of concrete stairs already leading up

“The visitors side will be able to access the concession stands from the walkway,” he said.

Umholtz said the district would be considering adding a concession stand and restroom facility to the visitors side.

“It’s a good idea to look into at a later date,” he said.

McCasland then asked if the district would be able to qualify for IFA grant funding since the initial plans to attach classrooms to the new gymnasium facility were being modified.

Umholtz confirmed that the district would still be receiving the funds regardless.

McCasland mentioned the old metal stairway leading up to the field from the parking lot, to which Umholtz said the district would be repairing and possibly replacing as part of the renovations.

“It’s just little things like that were what I was hoping to get out in the open,” McCasland said. “Some people just aren’t aware of the plans for these things, so I think it’s good to have them brought up.”

Umholtz said the district is always interested in getting feedback from the citizen.

“We welcome any questions or concerns,” he said. “It’s our primary goal to serve the needs of the students in our care, in the service of the entire Overton community.”

The board also received an update on the project from DeJohn, standing in for Patrick Bryan, construction manager for J.E. Kingham.

DeJohn informed the board that the concrete for the grade beams been poured, with that of the piers having been poured last week, which should be the bulk of the cost.

“Everything that’s going to hold the building up is in place now,” he said. “They’re also got the steel delivered, and is currently on the field.”

Board members Mike Rogers and Scott Florey expressed concerns that the state of the football field is being neglected, with heavy machinery and steel now located on the field surface.

“Is the field taking a back seat now, now that football season is over?” Rogers asked, saying that he wants to be sure the offseason program will be able to use the field by the early Spring.

DeJohn said the field has not taken a backseat, but that it remains a main component of the project.

“They’re certainly using the close access of the field to be able to work on the gym,” he said. “That’s the plan for right now.”

Rogers said the original plans assumed the field would be completed by the previous August, or September at the latest, so he thinks the company should return its focus to completing the field outright and use another area for access to build the gym.

“I do not want to be coming back here in August figuring out what we’re going to do about the football field,” he said. “This needs to just go ahead and be finished.”

DeJohn said he would certainly convey the board’s position to Kingham.

“Yes, please convey to them that next year we will be playing football on our field,” Florey added.

“That’s a certainty,” DeJohn agreed.

Later, the council held a public hearing to discuss the 2008-09 Financial Integrity Rating System Report. No citizens came forward to make any remarks or ask any questions.

In other business, the board approved annual financial audit report as presented by CPA Karen A. Jacks of Karen A. Jacks & Associates of Longview.

Jacks credited district administrators and staff for their assistance over the course of the audit.

“I just want to compliment your staff for their cooperation during this process,” Jacks said. “They really helped things go smoothly and were very cooperative […] that’s not always the case.”

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