Grayson weighing bleacher options

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE – Grayson County Public Schools will hire an engineering group to provide options for bleacher replacement after school board members approved the expense at their regular meeting this month.

The school division has been looking at using some leftover grant money (roughly $206,000) for the bleachers at the high school – which are in dire need of replacement and pose a safety hazard.

Superintendent Kevin Chalfant previously provided the board with three options:

The first option would tear down the existing concrete bleachers and replace them with aluminum bleachers.
While that sounds easy enough, Chalfant said previously that the hill would have to be stabilized before any new construction could take place.

Pillars would have to be put into the hillside and a four-inch concrete slab added along the slope of the hill for the aluminum bleachers to be anchored to.

The total cost for the first option would be around $340,000, or as Chalfant put it: “well over [the] allotted money.”

The second option would be to remove the concrete bleachers and build a similar construction of aluminum bleachers on what is now considered the visitors’ side of the stadium – essentially swapping the home and visitor sidelines.

The old bleachers would be removed and a grassy hillside could be made for seating for visitors. That would save the roughly $100,000 it would cost to tear up and prep the hillside for installation of the bleachers.

Chalfant said the estimated $225,000 is “closer to what we have, but double what we allotted.”

The third option Chalfant gave would be for the board to decide it couldn’t afford the difference in the cost and allocated funds.

The board could then spend the entire $206,000 on facilities and things the division needs desperately in other areas, such as boilers, roofing, lighting and electrical upgrades.

“We have had [the engineers] come and do a visual look,” Chalfant told the board this month about the potential options. “Now if we want them to do soil samples and drill in behind the bleachers, it’s going to require a contract where they’ll come out this summer and do the prep work, which – I think – is the first step in the eventual bleacher project.”

Chalfant noted that the school board needed to know what kind of condition the ground is in and whether the engineering firm believes the options are viable.

“If we tear [the bleachers] out and put something in and it doesn’t pass inspection or isn’t up to engineering standards, that’s bad,” he continued.

Chalfant noted that The Lane Group had been selected as the firm that would do the initial work and that the cost would be roughly $9,000.

Once the engineering review is complete, the board will have more firm numbers for each option.

“This is the first step,” Chalfant said.

Board Member Shannon Holdaway felt the engineering review was necessary before the board could decide what the next step is.

“We can’t make any decisions until we have the info,” Holdaway said. “It’s an easy choice. We can’t proceed until we know what ground we’re standing on.”

Board Member Gary Burris agreed, saying it was “a no-brainer” to move forward with the engineering contract.

With no objections, Chalfant said administration would move forward with the contract.