Field turf construction at football stadiums in the Monroe City School District has once again hit a snag.
When construction began at Neville, Carroll and Wossman High Schools back in June, it was supposed to be done by the time the teams played their jamborees held during the last weekend in August.
Jamboree week gave way to the first week of September — the product of an unusually rainy summer — and now the completion dates for each field have been pushed back even further.
Neville and Carroll are now anticipating a date of Sept. 14 — the week of both school’s home openers and Week 3 of the LHSAA season — while work at Wossman will wrap up on Sept. 28. The three schools were forced last Tuesday to move their jamborees set for Friday, Aug. 29 to ULM’s JPS Field at Malone Stadium.
To compensate for the delays, Hellas Construction — the company handling the bid — replaced the work crews that had been assigned he project and brought in crews from other completed jobs. Hellas Construction also handled the turf construction when the Ouachita Parish School Board underwent a similar project with three of its schools in 2012.
“They’re in an ‘all hands on deck’ situation right now but from what I’ve been able to see they’ve made some good progress already this week,” Neville football coach Mickey McCarty said. “Having been on those fields, we know it’ll be a quality end result, so we don’t want to rush them along too much.
“Really the biggest headache is working our practice schedule around everything, but we’re still getting our work done.”
So far this season the Tigers have practiced on the open field next to Bill Ruple Stadium, across the street at Forsythe Park and at JPS Field at Malone Stadium. Neville hosts Ouachita on September 19 with Carroll also opening their home schedule the same night at Thomas-Blade Memorial Stadium against the Peabody Warhorses.
Monroe City School District superintendent and former Neville principal Brent Vidrine continues to stay involved with the process and has conducted bi-weekly meetings with Hellas Construction officials since they broke ground.
“What they’re telling me now is the crew is in the process of what they call, ‘getting out of the ground,’ which is the terminology they use for putting down the gravel after everything’s been leveled off,” Vidrine said. “Unless something unexpected comes through, I feel pretty good about where we’re at right now.”
Wossman was set to open the season with two home dates, and while technically the Wildcats will still be the “home team,” the games won’t be on campus. Instead of playing at Grady Jones Memorial Stadium, the ‘Cats have an agreement in place with Richwood High School to play down the street at the Rams’ Mackie Freeze Stadium.
When Wossman finally hosts an opponent on Oct. 3 against Northwest, not only will the team be taking their home field for the first time in 2014, it’ll be in front of a homecoming crowd.
“If we can just get to that, everything will be OK,” Wossman football coach Dean Smith said. “This place will be jumping off, and I get excited just thinking about it.”
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PREPS SCRIMMAGE SCHEDULE
Ruston at Byrd; Franklin Parish at Caldwell
Parkway at West Monroe; Oak Grove at OCS; Airline
at Ouachita; Neville at Evangel; Wossman at Northwood; Cedar Creek/St. Frederick at Sterlington
* all scrimmages scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.