Could an athletic upgrade be coming to Grant County High School?

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By Paul Gable

Football and soccer games being canceled due to inclement weather could be a thing of the past if the Grant County Board of Education votes in favor of a proposed athletic field upgrade.

Robert Ehmet Hayes and Associates told the board at a work session on April 22, that the project would include a synthetic turf for football, a proposed 1,400-square foot concession/ticket taking stand that would feature batting cages and a new press box. The project comes with a price tag ranging anywhere from $1.4 to $1.7 million depending on how much or how little the board opts to do. Of that amount, $575,000 would be for the field turf.

"It would be a cash project, and it can be phased in. The next stage would be to decide what we do and don't want," superintendent Michael Hibbett told the board.

Synthetic field turf, made up of a mix of silica sand, rubber granules and fiber glass, has been installed at Covington Catholic, Dixie Heights, Newport, Highlands and Beechwood high schools in the past five years. The field is known for requiring little maintenance and will not have to be sodded, seeded, graded or striped, which would save the district money over time.

Hayes assured Shipp that soccer could be played on the turf at the high school.

Board member Tracy Goe asked if there would be an issue with scheduling games if the soccer teams were to play home games at the high school.

"Newport has turf and their first year, they held 126 events. It will be a huge benefit not only for athletics, but also for the band," Grant County High School football coach Mike Davis said.

Shipp told the board that through alternating scheduling, any issues can be worked out.

"There is a potential that the band can practice out there two to three times a week as well," Hibbett said.

Hayes also told the board that the existing press box would be demolished, prompting board member Billie Cahill to ask why the press box needs to be larger.

Davis said the current press box is inadequate, especially when three coaches and a camera man try to share the press box with a clock operator and a scoreboard operator.

"It definitely needs to be bigger. It is a third the size of the middle school's press box," Davis said.

Shipp told the board that the school is storing concessions inside the press box and it becomes crowded when the school hosts track meets.

Ron Kinmon, boys' varsity basketball coach, said that one benefit of the new facility would be a new locker room and the visiting teams would no longer have to dress inside his team's locker room.

"Also, you would get baseball, softball and track out of the gym. It will benefit other programs other well," Kinmon said.

Cahill also said the proposed upgrades "would help a lot of kids."

In addition to athletics, it was discussed that the facility could also be used by physical education classes.

Hibbett told the board students are told that failure is not an option.

"It is fair to say that we should raise standards for extra curricular activities as well," Hibbett said.

The board will vote on the measure at an upcoming board meeting.

Grant County athletic director Scott Shipp asked if soccer could be played on the turf. Currently, the high school boys and girls soccer teams, along with the middle school soccer teams, play their games at Grant County Middle School.