Leader Blues

Friday, February 12, 2010

SPORTS >> Searcy gym gives in to weather, collapses

By TODD TRAUB
Leader sports editor

The Searcy school district hopes to begin rebuilding its fallen annex gym on Monday at the earliest, superintendent Tony Wood said.

The gym, which houses a basketball court, weight room, dressing rooms and equipment for several sports, collapsed Tuesday under the weight of snow from heavy winter storms in the area.

The structure was estimated at $1.25 million, which doesn’t include equipment and uniforms stored inside. Wood was hoping to have all insurance issues settled by Friday so crews could begin demolition and removal of debris early next week.

“We’re going to go right on and build it back on that footprint,” Wood said. “The slab is not hurt in any way.”

Wood said he hoped the gym could be replaced by the start of school in August.

“That’s a reasonable time frame for the facility,” Wood said. “There’s a lot we can do pretty quick.”

The annex gym was a multi-purpose building used for physical education classes, wrestling, the girls’ basketball weight room and equipment storage for football, soccer, track and wrestling.

“We’ve retrieved very little out of it and the building is a total loss,” athletic director James Frank said.

The school also has policies covering replacement and content, and Frank said he had asked all coaches to submit inventories of equipment and uniforms lost.

Frank said the loss of the annex would not affect the remainder of Searcy’s high school basketball schedule. The Lions and Lady Lions play three of their final four games at home, and will split practice time in the junior high and senior high gyms.

“We’re just so fortunate to have another building,” Wood said.

Frank said the high school has another building, with weights and a dressing room, which the baseball team uses for indoor workouts that the wrestlers can also use.

The collapse of the annex was the latest in a series of facilities and equipment problems affecting the Searcy district, and athletics, this school year.

Frank said district buses had 22 flat tires on the first day of school, then light standards at the football stadium were found to be unsound, forcing Searcy to play some of its home football games at nearby Bald Knob.

“We had floods. We had snow days and a gym cave in so it’s been an interesting year,” Frank said.