GCMS football locker room closed after sewage seeps in

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By Paul Gable

On Tuesday, June 10, the Grant County Middle School football team headed to Lexington for its annual trip to the NFL Camp. When they returned, the Braves found an opponent they couldn't tackle lurking inside their locker room as a control fuse in the pump station blew, causing the sewer to back up into their locker room. This is the second incident within the last five years.

Upon entering the facility, head coach Jamey Dalzell found the facility uninhabitable for his team, and locked the door before calling Carl Howe, district maintenance supervisor.

"I am extremely disappointed that this problem persists. It's unfortunate and I feel like our kids deserve better facilities," Dalzell said.

According to superintendent Michael Hibbet, maintenance workers sprayed the facility down with a hose and put a note on the door stating the facility was closed.

In addition, the Northern Kentucky Health Department received a complaint about the sewage backup and inspectors found the presence of sewage, according to Emily Gresham Wherle, public information manager for the Northern Kentucky Health Department.

Wherle said her department had heard no players were sick due to exposure.

"The risk depends on what's in the water. The organism has to be in the sewage for there to be a risk," Wherle said.

Diseases that could have been contracted include: E coli, crypto and Hepatitis A.

The health department asked Hibbett to respond with documentation as to how the district has cleaned up the problem. Once the documentation is received, the health department will send their own personnel to do an inspection.

As of Tuesday, June 17, the health department had not cleared access to the facility.

On June 11, the facility was pressure washed with disinfectant and the district's maintenance workers tested the scene and did not like the results. In the days since, maintenance workers have continued to clean and disinfect the area and have thrown several items away.

"The facility is cleaned, sanitized and ready to go," GCMS principal Jim Lacey said last week.

The facility housed weight equipment, shoulder pads, jerseys, helmets and several thousands of dollars worth of practice equipment.

"Anything inside will be cleaned to specifications or it will go down as an insurance claim. They won't be out of anything. This is not their fault," Hibbett said.

As for a new facility, Hibbett said "it is on the drawing board."

On Monday morning, Wherle confirmed the health department had not received any documentation.

Hibbett said the safety of the student-athletes is his number one priority.