An unsafe section of the visitors' bleachers at Sullivan Central has been declared off-limits. Ned Jilton II photo.
BLOUNTVILLE — Some of Sullivan Central High School’s football bleachers have been deemed unsafe and off-limits, a self-imposed safety action by the school system.
But a school maintenance official said new wooden footboards will be installed in time for the first regular home game Sept. 13.
Maintenance Supervisor Joe Davenport Tuesday said a school system inspector found about 60 footboards in the visitors’ bleachers at Central are no longer safe, and he said those areas have been physically blocked from usage until the new boards are installed.
“Normally, we replace a few boards every year,” Davenport said, adding that the project at Central will cost an estimated $5,000: about $3,000 for the pressure-treated No. 2 lumber and the rest for paint or stain.
Board of Education member Randall Jones of Indian Springs, who represents most of the Central zone, asked about the matter at a work session Thursday and again at the Monday night Board of Education meeting. Jones said he wants to be sure the bleachers are ready for the Sept. 13 game and has repeatedly asked for the date the replacement boards will be installed.
Davenport told the board Monday night that work was under way to expedite the purchase of the material through county Purchasing Agent Chris Davis.
Tuesday morning, he said he had just signed the requisition and other required signatures were being added.
“We’re going to get started on that soon,” Davenport said.
By the purchasing law under which the county operates, any purchases of more than $2,000 must be bid, he said, although he said the lumber was a standard item that would not be difficult to procure.
Most years, he said such bleacher board replacements are absorbed in the regular maintenance budget, but because of the amount of boards at Central and potential for needs in other schools, Davenport said the system’s Capital Improvement Program or CIP funding has been amended to add $15,000 earmarked for bleacher maintenance.
“We continue to replace and improve things,” Director of Schools Jubal Yennie said Wednesday.
Davenport said a private bleacher company is doing free systemwide inspections of all outdoor and indoor bleachers at no cost or obligation to the county.
“We’re going to match his list with my man’s list,” Davenport said.
Among the other high schools, he said Sullivan East and South have some wooden bleachers for football, as do many of the middle schools. He said North High’s football bleachers are all concrete.
After the school board meeting Monday, Colonial Heights area residents expressed concerns about the press box area at Colonial Heights Middle. Davenport said the Colonial Heights Optimist Club plans to spend about $3,000 to put in new stair treads and some new flooring.
Davenport said the issue with inside bleachers usually is worn out hinges and other hardware on the old-style basketball seating that can be pulled out and pushed back in as needed. He said that type of seating is prevalent in middle school buildings that used to be high schools.
After Monday’s meeting, Angie Ward Stanley told Jones and Robyn Ivester of Piney Flats, whose district includes part of Colonial Heights, of other issues include an uneven walking path the South High band uses to get from the school to a practice area between South and Rock Springs Elementary. She said one girl broke her foot on the path last year.