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Perquimans behind schedule on athletic field

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Staff photo by Peter Williams A crane lifts one of the four light poles into place at the new athletic complex at Perquimans County High School earlier this month.

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By PETER WILLIAMS
The Perquimans Weekly

Thursday, July 26, 2018

HERTFORD — Work on the new $1.2 million football field at Perquimans County High School is progressing, but it won’t be ready for the first game of the season as was hoped.

Superintendent Matthew Cheeseman said the school system still hopes it can be ready to play on by Aug. 17 but said Oct. 12 may be a more realistic date. The Pirates play four of their first few games on the road and the Oct. 12 date against Gates is the first home game after that.

The hang up is grass – or more specifically an irrigation system to keep it watered. Leary Winslow, a school board member and owner of Macon Turf Farm, offered to donate the sod but was worried about keeping it alive.

“Sod will only live a day or so without water,” Winslow said. “That was a huge concern among other things. Once the water goes in irrigation can be installed along with the final grade. Then sod. We will still be donating the sod … once those other things happen.”

The original plan was to bore under Edenton Road Street to get the six-inch water main from the high school side over to the football field without disturbing the pavement, said Jim Davison, the school system’s maintenance director.

That won’t work and now the plan requires tearing up asphalt to lay the line. Motorists will still be able to travel down Edenton Road Street because both lanes won’t be torn up at the same time. But the forecast of rain for days, may hinder the water line work.

The line has to be in place so the irrigation firm can do a flow test to make sure it provides enough water. Once that happens, the irrigation can be installed, Davison said.

As much as Cheeseman says he wants to be able to play the first game there, he understands.

“It took us 15 years to get to this point, but we’re going to get it done,” Cheeseman said. “We are very happy Mr. Winslow is donating the sod.”

The home side bleachers are nearly finished and the press box can be hoisted up just as soon as it is dry enough to get a crane in, Davison said.

Musco Lighting completed that task of getting the lights installed in three days once the materials were on-site.

Davison said it involved taking four 24-foot-long pre-cast concrete pipes and burying them 18 feet in the ground. The four metal light poles were then lifted down onto the concrete pipes and adjusted.

“At the top they had a battery-operated laser and they marked off the dead-center of the field and turned the pole until the laser hit that spot and then the lights were set.”

Davison said football fans and players will really see a difference with the LED lighting.

“They will provide almost triple the amount of light on the field,” he said.

The concession stands and the field house weren’t expected to be complete for the very first game. Instead the plan is to have them ready by mid September.

“Chicago” Eure, the owner of Eure and Sons construction, said the weather has held him back, and there was a problem with the delivery of the metal buildings. Eure is building both the 1,000-square foot bathroom/concession stand and the 1,800-square foot field house.

“The buildings were supposed to be here by now, but the company had them loaded on the truck and somebody noticed they hadn’t been painted,” Eure said Wednesday. Instead of black, the metal panels were red, so the company in Georgia had to take the materials off the truck, paint them and then put them back on the truck.

“My guys are ready to start standing that thing up tomorrow if we get the buildings,” Eure said.

He said he’s doubtful he’ll hit the original target for being finished, “but we’re going to be close. That’s what I’m working on anyway.”

All in all, Davison said the school system has made a lot of progress in a very short time.

“We are in pretty good standing. We had a couple of small setbacks from unforeseeable stuff. We’ve also had a little bit of (rainy) weather.”

The 32-acre site for the field was donated by Dr. William Nixon, a former Perquimans County resident. What gave the project a huge boost was a $600,000 gift from the estate of the late Charles Ward. Ward left the money to the county with instructions it should be used for either a new library or a football field. At the time of his death, the library project had yet to start, but by the time the gift was received, funding for the library had already been obtained. The Perquimans County Commission, of which Ward was a member in the past, opted to use it for the football field.

An anonymous donor is paying to build the field house.

In terms of cash, the Perquimans County School Board tapped a special lottery fund set aside in the county’s name to fund school buildings. That paid about $600,000 of the total.

The 32-acre site is more than large enough to accommodate a football field, plus practice field, a soccer field and athletic track and tennis courts. The original estimate for the entire project was about $6.2 million. That was from 2010.

The track and soccer field are considered for the second phase.

The Pirates are scheduled to open the 2018 season with a game against Northside-Pinetown on Aug. 17.

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