Runners at Lincolnton and West Lincoln high schools will have completely revamped tracks to use when spring track season gets under way.
Both schools’ track facilities are in the process of major improvement projects. The schools shared similar issues with the location of their fields, poor shape of event areas, and not being the top choices in the area to host track meets.
Lincolnton High had stopped holding competitions on its grounds altogether, losing out on commissions from purchases at home events — an opportunity every high school should be afforded, School Board member Bob Silver said at a recent Board of Education Building and Site Committee meeting.
The amount of dollars spent transporting students to other schools for every meet was also becoming a costly expense, the committee agreed, but the poor shape of the asphalt and other facilities was unfit for competitions, and made area education officials uncomfortable with allowing events to be held at the two high schools.
Previously, the outside lane of the LHS track ran inches from concrete steps leading to the bleachers on the visitors’ side of the stadium, Executive Director of Facilities for Lincoln County Schools Darrell Gettys noted, which posed hazards to the runners.
The inner-most lane, too, was close to another “field structure” — a chain link fence — that, had a runner slipped or taken a wrong step, could have caused injuries. The new track at the local school is relocated away from the steps, while the fence will be moved inward to provide more distance between the runners and what once were potentially dangerous surroundings.
Over one-inch-wide cracks also posed dangers, while the designated section used for events, such as the area for long and high jumps, was overgrown by Bermuda grass with the asphalt crumbling underneath.
Lincolnton High is also the site set to host the Lincoln County Special Olympics, an event LHS Principal Tony Worley worries won’t be able to be held at the school if the repairs aren’t completed in time.
As of now, depending on the weather conditions of the upcoming months, Gettys and his crew estimate both projects to be completed by mid-April.
At West Lincoln High, half of the new curbing is in place, and after it’s completed, the stone base will be set and the asphalt will be installed, along with features Gettys hopes will keep the area and its patrons more safe.
“We will also be adding fencing around the entire facility for added security,” Gettys told the Times-News on Monday. “At West, the track facilities are in an open area, and they have had problems with vandalism, particularly with persons riding four-wheelers onto the premises. In some cases damage was done to the field.”
Adding boundaries to the area is designed to keep trespassers away from the field during off-hours when events aren’t taking place, and to provide a “safety barrier” for local residents attending meets at the institution.
The cost of revamping the Lincolnton High track is estimated at about $283,000, while West Lincoln’s cost is in the $257,000 ballpark.
“As with all of the projects that we have been able to complete, I believe that the morale and spirit at these schools will be revived with the new facilities,” Gettys said.