Leader Blues

Friday, November 13, 2009

TOP STORY >> Teachers will get pay raise

Leader staff writer

Beebe teachers and some school employees will soon be getting $1,000 pay raises.

The school board approved the increases at Monday’s meeting.

Cafeteria workers, janitors and other classified employees will receive 3 percent raises. The raise makes the minimum teacher salary in the district $35,000. Raises were planned in the 2009-2010 school budget.

Construction on the $6 million Career and Technical Center at the high school will soon be under way. The board approved two bids from Spence Construction. A bid of $403,000 was submitted for site work and for constructing a new road to the new building. A second bid of $112,500 is to build a road from the Early Childhood Building to the Transportation Department.

Five stadium light poles at the baseball field were repaired in October after an inspection.

In August, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sent a release alerting the public that outdoor steel stadium light poles manufactured by Whitco of Fort Worth, Texas, can fracture or crack and fall over. Whitco is no longer in business.

The commission said the Whitco light poles installed from 2000 to 2006 should be inspected immediately. The commission confirmed nine Whitco poles installed during the six-year period had fallen. The commission was not aware of any injuries.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission found 50 Whitco poles that did not fall had cracks next to the welds connecting the pole to the base plate.

Whitco lighting poles at the Beebe baseball field were installed in 1998. The poles were inspected last month by ReliaPOLE Solutions of Texas. Five of six light poles required minor repairs.

Assistant Superintendent Hal Crisco said the poles needed welding and re-galvanizing.

Crisco said, “Everything has been repaired, re-inspected and taken care of.”

The board members approved $17,000 for the repair of the stadium light poles.

In other sports news, Athletic Surfaces Plus of Memphis gave a presentation to the school board on replacing the natural grass surface at A.S. “Bro” Erwin Stadium with synthetic turf.

Athletic Surfaces Plus offers consulting, project management and fundraising for synthetic turf upgrades.

Board members have talked about adding soccer to the Beebe athletic program. Beebe would need to a build a field if the sport is added.

Athletic Surfaces Plus consultant Tim Cowan spoke about widening and replacing the current grass football field with a dual purpose football and soccer field. The cost would be around $600,000.

Building a separate natural grass soccer field would cost between $275,000 to $300,000, according to Cowan. Adding bleachers, restrooms and a scoreboard would increase the cost. A.S. “Bro” Erwin Stadium has the infrastructure already in place.

Cowan said sources of funding for the synthetic field could come from private donations, business advertising on the outer edges of the field and in naming rights for the stadium.

Cowan said the artificial field has several benefits. The lines on the field, the hash marks, the Beebe logo and the end zones are permanent colored turf.

The synthetic turf has a low maintenance cost and has an eight-year warranty.

There is no watering, fertilizing or top dressing. The turf is safer and fewer injuries occur. However, the turf surface is hotter in the summer than grass.

“You cannot wear out the field. UV light will break down the fibers, not play,” Cowan said.

Cowan said, “The life of the turf is 12-plus years. The turf will handle 20-inches of rain an hour. It does not puddle. It can dry in 30 minutes or less.”

Cowen said many schools with the synthetic surface have opened their athletic fields to the community. The durability of the turf allows for bands and ROTC to practice marching, concerts, graduations, pee-wee football games and community events.

Beebe assistant football coach Jim Wooten said, “It would be a positive for the community. People could take a great deal of pride in it.”