Although the Winder-Barrow High School fieldhouse is still being termed “new,” it is already in need of numerous repairs.
That was the overall report from assistant superintendent for facilities Jake Grant during Tuesday’s Barrow County Board of Education work session. Grant told superintendent Ron Saunders and BOE members the activities center, or fieldhouse as it is commonly called, located at W. Clair Harris Stadium, needs roof work and other repairs.
The BOE will again take up the issue at its Dec. 2 meeting.
BOE members were also told last week that landscaping work is needed to keep water from coming into the facility when it rains. Fiberglass also needs to be removed from the showers and replaced. Tile in the front lobby and blocks on the structure’s foundation have s also cracked.
Total costs have not been gathered at this point as Grant said he wanted to go out and obtain “competitive bids.”
The news of needed repairs to the facility, which was only completed in the last couple of years, left many BOE members stunned.
“Is this the contactor’s fault?” BOE member Connie Wehunt asked. “This was just built.”
“There was a lot of volunteer work,” Grant said. “We had a contractor who coordinated the work.”
BOE chairman Bill Bramlett said it would be best to work around the issue and take a different approach rather than placing blame.
“It appears to be some things were left out of the roof installation,” the chairman said “My question is, ‘Why was the construction incomplete?’”
The project was done at a cost of $600,000 from SPLOST funds, which are to be repaid back over time from the W. Clair Harris Foundation, which pays for projects of this nature. School system financial director Ken Cato said two payments of $85,000 have been received to reimburse the school system for the project.
“We made some suggestions on how it should be built and they were not followed,” superintendent Ron Saunders said.
BOE member Mark Still said the school system should never allow something to be built on its property without control over it.
“If we go forward, can we require the booster club to pay some of this repair money back?” Still then asked.
Wehunt added: “Athletics is not what we are in business for. Where is the money for this going to come from? I have nothing against athletics, but there are other needs.”
BOE members then asked who was in charge of overseeing the construction project.
Rob Johnson, who is now an assistant superintendent, was principal at WBHS at the time and said he was in charge of it, along with former athletic director and assistant principal Jeff Beggs, who retired at the end of the 2007-08 school year. Beggs is no longer working for the Barrow County School System.
The project was later turned over to former head football coach Brian Allison, who is now at Union County High School.
“Is a coach authorized to handle that type of money?” Wehunt said, looking stunned at the news that Allison was handling it.
The BOE was then told Joel Walters was initially coordinating the project.
“Brian was making sure payments were getting make to the contractors,” Grant said. “There were some issues with contractors getting paid.”
Bramlett recommended a committee be formed to look into the situation and report back to the board for next Tuesday night’s regular meeting for December.
“When we did this I wanted to be sure it was planned and thought out and apparently it was not,” Bramlett said. “Many of these issues should have been taken care of.”
Bramlett, Wehunt, Larry Ballard and Dan Cromer are serving on the committee looking into the matter.
So, who could not see this train wreck coming? You let a group build a project on school property and don't have oversight on design or build out. Looks like the BOE got what they deserved. What a joke of a group for having the ability to see how this would play out.