Work at Erickson to continue without BOE funds

PARKERSBURG -Work and renovations will continue at the Erickson All-Sports Facility in spite of the Wood County Board of Education’s omission to allot funds.

Rick Bush said Tuesday’s neglect by the board to provide funds to south side athletic facilities was a bump in the road.

“This is a disappointment and a bump in the road,” he said.

When Wood County school system officials considered funding renovations at Stadium Field Tuesday, board members were also asked to provide funding for needs at Parkersburg South. Bush spoke in support of funding Stadium Field, but asked for funding for Parkersburg South as well. He requested $500,000: $100,000 for the new track around the Erickson All-Sports Facility and approximately $400,000 for new bleachers at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

Board members chose to focus only on the needs of the condemned Stadium Field bleachers, but said afterward they want to come back to Bush’s comments.

Bush said that’s already been done. He pointed out Tuesday’s agenda was for the approval of funds for facility improvements. That was amended to appropriate $700,000 to Stadium Field renovations. No mention was made for Erickson.

“By doing nothing, they told us no. By taking no action I was denied last night. That is a resolution in and of itself,” he said.

Board President Tim Yeater said some board members stated a willingness to support Erickson, but he noted the matter is not slated to be on the agenda anytime soon.

Yeater said the provided funding for Stadium Field was a “needs-based issue.”

“(It) being condemned played a big role in our actions into taking quick action,” he said. “If it hadn’t been condemned, there would not have been the expediency to give that money.”

School system officials provided an overview of the facilities needs and funds. Finance Director Connie Roberts said the school system is projecting a $4.9 million carryover for the upcoming fiscal year. That money includes the $2.8 million contingency funds as well as $200,000 in money needed for emergency repairs. However, Roberts said the school system needs approximately $16 million in roof repairs . If the money isn’t there, at least $200,000 is needed for emergency work until enough is available to do the repairs.

“We understand with the presentation Dr. (Pat) Law and Connie (Roberts) gave we are digging into our budget very deep with regards to funding,” Yeater said.

With that in mind Yeater said the board will take a comprehensive look at the system’s athletic facilities. Board officials want to form a committee to study the needs of all systems athletic facilities.

Bush said a committee is a “dodge.”

“The easiest thing to do is appoint a committee,” he said.

Bush said regardless of the board, work at Erickson will continue.

“My feeling is the sun came up this morning. Their denial of our request is not the end of the world. It is not the end of our efforts.”

Bush said within a month officials hope to begin digging the foundation for expansion of the locker rooms, paid for through fundraising projects and donations.

“The group I have will continue to make Erickson an even better facility than we have now.”