Leader Blues

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

SPORTS>> Groundbreaking

Leader sportswriter

Work began last week just north of the North Pulaski football practice field end zone on the new Falcon field house.

The proposed 60-foot-by-100-foot facility will not be large enough to hold scrimmage practice like the Jacksonville High School field house, but will be more of a weightlifting center similar to that of Sylvan Hills’ facilities.

North Pulaski athletic director and head football coach Tony Bohannon has been campaigning for the new facility for some time. Bohannon was in Fayetteville last week for high-school all-star week when he got the news that ground was finally being broken.

“The good thing for us is that it will free up two more classrooms,” Bohannon said. “It’s good for our kids to have something that is their own from an ownership standpoint, and it’s a good thing to have football-wise.”

The football Falcons’ only winning season came in the mid-eighties, and they have never made a playoff appearance in 30 years of competition. North Pulaski ended a 32-game losing skid on homecoming last September by beating Greene County Tech.

The football Falcons’ struggles have been in part attributed to the lack of field house facilities. While most other PCSSD schools have had these same types of facilities for decades now, the Falcons were low men on the totem pole, due in part to being the newest school in the district.

The current weight room facilities are located near the Falcons Nest gymnasium, and will be petitioned down the middle and converted into two classrooms once construction on the field house is finished.

Bohannon also says that, while all of the equipment going into the new field house will not be brand new, it will at least be refurbished. The athletic department has already recovered and repainted many of the old weight benches and racks, but Bohannon hopes that enough money can be raised between now and the projected completion date of Oct. 17 to add some new equipment.

The field house in its initial configuration will not take up any of the North Pulaski practice field, which sits directly behind the football stadium.

However, Bohannon says it is being constructed in a manner that would allow for another 60’ X 100’ area, which could serve as a scrimmaging field to be built on the south side of the building at a later date.

“It will give us a bigger weight room, and more room for the kids to dress in and out,” Bohannon said. “We’ll be able to get everyone together in the same place if we want to talk to them. We couldn’t even do that in the one we’ve been using.”

One person who is not excited about the new facility is Pulaski County Special School District business affairs coordinator Larry
O’Briant, who cited large cost overruns.

He said the initial plan for the building was far different than what is being built.

“We gave all of the high schools $100,000 last year,” O’Briant told The Leader. “Some of them used that money for bleachers, some of them used it for repairs.

“North Pulaski wanted to save their $100,000 to go toward a new field house and raise the rest of the money they needed themselves through their booster club, but that fell through after they went out and told everyone that they were getting a new field house.

“They came to me and said they had someone that could build it for approximately $200,000, but they didn’t do their homework. They didn’t take into account how much it would cost for building permits and all the channels you have to go through with the city of Jacksonville in order to get something like this done, so it was just poor planning on their part.”

O’Briant said the cost to build the field house currently is at $600,000.

Reached for comment on Tuesday morning on O’Briant’s statements, Bohannon would only say that whatever the cost is, the kids at North Pulaski High School will benefit from the new facilities.

“This is all about the kids,” Bohannon said. “Bottom line, they’re going to be getting a new facility and two extra classrooms.”