Marching Band Festival will resume in fall

The Rolla Board of Education Thursday night voted unanimously to spend $812,743 to install synthetic turf, add 450 seats and make other improvements to the football stadium at Rolla High School.

“This is not just a turf project,” Assistant Superintendent Kelly Hinshaw stressed during his presentation on what is known today as the Lions Memorial Stadium Project.

The board accepted the base bid of $629,555 from ATG-Ram Industries LLC, a Kansas company with an office in St. Louis that has converted about 150 Missouri football fields from turfgrass to synthetic turf.

That base bid covers the cost of the field conversion.

Added to that is $183,188 of more work at the stadium.

These alternate bids were accepted along with the base bid:

A center “R” logo in maroon on the synthetic turf.

End zone lettering.

End zone colored maroon.

A protective soccer net on the 10th Street side.

Relocation of the wall to allow expansion of the field so soccer can be played on it.

Addition of two bleacher sections.

Reconnect irrigation on the practice field.

Turned down were alternate bids for a center logo bulldog picture, rotating goal posts and synthetic turf on the practice field.

The Turf by ’12 committee has rasied $285,355.62 in cash, interest, pledges, in-kind donations and fence banner contracts as of March 14.

“I think they’ll continue to make contacts,” Hinshaw said of the private fund-raising effort.

Hinshaw made a lengthy presentation on the Lions Memorial Stadium Project as he sought to dispel what he described as public misunderstandings about the project.

Not only is it not a turf project solely, it also isn’t recent, he said, seeking to place the genesis of the project back in 2001 with a Missouri School Board Association conference at which school administrators picked up samples of synthetic turf and brought them back to Rolla.

After that, the project solely evolved, he said.

Long-range planning committees of the board studied turf in 2006-2007. Then in 2012, the board approved a Turf Committee comprising alumni, patrons, parents and school district employees to “collaboratively work toward securing the funding support necessary for installing field turf at Lions Memorial Staidum.”

That phrase “collaboratively work” meant the district would be involved in the funding, he said.

The committee was charged with creating a vision, sharing the vision, creating enthusiasm, discussing an alumni support networik, discussing internal school support stratagey and indentify revenue resources.

Tasks given to the Turf Committee were to seek board support, meet to discuss issues, develop a strategy to create an alumni network, develop the internal support strategy and develop a communication plan.

“I want to thnak this group for what they’ve done,” Hinshaw said. “I think they did what their charger asked them to do.”

A dozen business, plus some individuals, have signed up for fence banners, paying $15,000 over the next five years. There are other donations and pledges of even higher amounts.

And there are many donations of lower amounts. All donations are important and needed, Hinshaw said, and they’ll continue to be accepted.

Timeline for the projects calls for construction to begin May 1 and its completion to be July 1. An official with the ATG office was at the meeting. He said the company would like to start April 1, weather permitting, and be completed by June 1.

School administrators in previous discussions stressed the synthetic turf will make the field available for more activities more often. Once installed, the field will drain 16 inches of rain in an hour.

Rain has caused problems in the past, and killed a popular music festival held each October at the football field.

“2008 was the last date for the Route 66 Marching Band Festival,” Hinshaw reminded the board. Rain had either caused cancellation of the festival or created mud that soiled musicians’ costly-to-clean uniforms so often that the district ended the festival.

Mitch Lewis, an officer with both the turf committee and the band boosters organization attended the school board meeting. After the board approved the bid, he announced the Route 66 Marching Band Festival would return in October of this year with a target of at least 15 bands and hopes of growing that figure back to 30 by 2014.

ATG will maintain the field for eight years with a full warranty. Its life expectancy is 10-12 years. Replacing the turf will not be so expensive as the initial construction cost, because all the excavation and underlayment will not need to be repeated.

ATG has built 150 fields in Missouri, about 72 percent of all the synthetic turf fields in the state.