Coach Sharp commented this week he would not move home games from LCHS stadium this year. “This has got to be about the kids, not about any school board member. This has got to be positive,” Coach Sharp stated.
Lewis County School Board members will convene tonight and are expected to continue a discussion of a proposed reconstruction of the press box and the building of a brand new high school, among other items on the agenda.
By Becky Jane Newbold,
“We can move all the home ball games away. If that’s what everyone wants, hey, we can do that,” Coach Bobby Sharp, namesake of the local high school field, weighed in.
“Help yourself,” School Board member Ritchie Brewer could be heard saying as Board member Johnny Clayton interrupted with, “Don’t do that.”
Gridiron emotions flared during the May 14, 2019 meeting of the Lewis County School Board when members of the board balked at the price of a new press box for the 2019-20 football season at Lewis County High School.
“We have one of the nicest stadiums in 2A football,” Coach Sharp informed the board during the meeting May 14, 2019. He asked the board why they would not want to rebuild to keep Lewis County’s stadium as one of the best.
Initial estimates for the reconstruction of the press box started at $30,000, went as high as $250,000 with a quote from Southern Bleachers – a quote that included an elevator – and are unofficially reported as settling into the $70,000 range.
Perhaps one of the biggest drivers of the need for a press box, aside from play calling and media coverage, is that the scoreboard at the local field is controlled from the press box. The school would be required to have an operational scoreboard.
While TSSAA representative Richard McWhirter told a member of the board, “A press box is not mandatory for a TSSAA event,” making the appropriate changes in score keeping in time for a mid-August season start may be complicated.
“What I don’t want us to ever do, is to get so removed from our kids. We have 80-100 kids in that program. The plays that come from that press box send our kids to college,” Principal Stacey Hickerson passionately told the board.
“Since being involved in this program…I am blown away. It’s not about Lewis County High School. It’s about Lewis County. It goes beyond an athletic program. It’s family reunions. It’s a lot of things.”
Hickerson mentioned the press box is used during graduation ceremonies and for security on the field. Director Pace admitted he liked to watch the game from the press box for privacy reasons.
“Why is everything for football?” Board Member Glenda Atkinson asked, a feeling echoed by Board Member Lindsey Himes when Himes said, “Let’s love all our sports.”
Director of Schools reported during the meeting the schools invested $100,000 in two gym floors, have replaced lighting in gyms and spoke of investments in the baseball field including paving.
When asked last week if home games would actually be moved, Booster Club President Mann Nutt immediately responded, “Not feasible and not probable.”
Coach Sharp concurred Tuesday.
“We are going to play football this year, and we are going to play on that field,” Coach Sharp stated.
At the direction of the School Board, Director Pace is gathering quotes from area contractors to rebuild the press box. Quotes will be presented at the June 6, 2019 meeting, he told the Herald last week.
“We want to do what’s right and what is needed,” Board Member Ritchie Brewer commented Tuesday. “It’s not that we are against football. We are trying to be good stewards of the money we have,” he added.
A notebook containing salaries for each teacher was the reference School Board member Nancy McDonald used during last month’s meeting when speaking of Board Member Marti Lomax “Having the numbers.”
“Being accused of a Sunshine Law violation was as stupid as it could be,” McDonald said Monday. “Marti was the only one of us who had her notebook. There was no sneakiness of any kind,” McDonald continued. “I asked Marti to give us the correct numbers so I didn’t mess up.”