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Renovations at DHS to include replacing natural grass with field turf

Monday, February 4, 2013

The natural grass field at J.C. Sawyers stadium at Dyersburg High School will be replaced in the future with field turf as part of the five-phase plan of renovations.
In a move expected to bring excitement as well as monetary savings well into the future, Dyersburg's Director of Schools Neel Durbin has announced a tentative plan to change the playing surface at J.C. Sawyers stadium from natural grass to field turf.

In a move sure to get local sports fans buzzing, field turf is coming to Dyersburg High School. The only question remaining is when. Durbin hopes it's sooner than later, but the one thing for sure is the fact that yes, the field will eventually be one that never has to be mowed or painted once the phase is complete.

The plan to convert the playing surface from grass to turf is part of a five-phase plan of improvements currently under way at the high school. In a move to save millions of dollars, city school officials decided against demolishing the current high school and rebuilding a new one. The decision to renovate instead of rebuilding could save as much as $30 million.

In December, members of Team Dyersburg donated $10,000 to the effort to replace the natural grass with field turf. Pictured are, front (l-r) Ricky Petty, Rob Peckenpaugh; back (l-r) Bart Stowe, Lee Baker, Jeff Heathcott, Ross Maldonado, DHS Principal Jon Frye, Kim Peckenpaugh, Director of Schools Neel Durbin.
Though the current building that serves as home to Dyersburg High School was built in 1971 and is currently 42 years old, city school officials decided against demolishing and rebuilding. Instead of spending more than $42 million on a new high school structure, the decision was made to renovate, a move currently estimated to cost $12 million.

The cost of converting from natural grass to an artificial surface is expected to cost close to $850,000. The move, once completed, will allow the majority of all city school athletic functions taking place outdoors to be held at the stadium. Durbin believes the move is a no-brainer and will ultimately save a lot of money in the future.

"Throughout this process we've done a lot of things to save us money, and the last thing we can do to save even more money is to turf the field," said Durbin. "When we look at the costs for all the fertilizer, the sand, the pesticides and herbicides and the enormous amount of water, not to mention the manpower it takes to maintain it the way it is today, this is an easy decision."

Though no definite timetable, either in 2013 or 2014, is set as to when construction will begin, the latest update to the campus will involve a new turf surface on what will formerly be known simply as the football field.

The general idea behind the plan is, as is the entire five-phase plan, something to save money over the long haul. Durbin has done the research and he believes by adding turf that the savings would be great right away, but even better later on down the road.

"The plan is to save us money over the long run. Over a 10-year period it will save us some money, but over a 20-year period it will save us a lot of money," added Durbin. "The turf on the field will last at least 10 years and maybe even longer, but when you do have to replace it you don't have to do any prep work. That alone will cut our cost in half or maybe more to replace it when that time comes."

Durbin hopes with the new turf to be able to host up to 100 events a year at the stadium. Though it would come down to scheduling, he hopes to have all city school outdoor functions that require the space a football field provides held at the stadium.

"We want to play high school football on the field obviously, but we want to play middle school football there as well," he added. "We will play high school soccer on the field, but we want to play middle school soccer there too. We want to be able to host everything on the field that we can and we want people to be excited about it because this is an exciting time for us."

While the turf should provide a high level of excitement for the community, in order to convert the field from its present condition a sizable amount of funding is needed. While corporate sponsors are currently being courted to supply the funding needed to begin the next phase, Durbin believes the proposed turf will happen in the near future through donations.

"We're not asking for a tax increase to put in field turf because we're going to do it through private donations," he added. "We have some local corporations looking at becoming sponsors and we're waiting to hear back from those people. Once we secure those funds we're going to get started on it pretty quick."

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That always irked me. The football team has a football field and a practice field that no one else can use. Why boot the soccer team to the middle school? The football team gets everything they want. Some of it can be justified - but kicking other sports off of their field just because they want it pristine comes across to me as snobbish. So when Coach Durbin says they want more sports on the field, that's not a plus for the turf - that's something they should have been doing all along.

-- Posted by K Ray on Mon, Feb 4, 2013, at 8:32 PM

I thought we were "broke" when the subject of education came up. If we have limited funds for education, how in the world can we justify close to a million dollars for replacing a really good football field surface? The cost savings seem to be a myth as well. A visit to www.turf.uark.edu/turfhelp might help those without bias see that this might not be a good idea. More injuries alone would be cause for most players and parents to question this idea.

-- Posted by Dybgtaxpayer on Tue, Feb 5, 2013, at 6:55 AM

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