McKenzie better, but still in need

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 1, 2003

Visiting fans could be at risk when they attend a football game at McKenzie School.

It's evident by the condition of the concrete pad, on which the bleachers on the guest side rest. The pad is caving in and the bleachers are leaning toward a gaping hole that was the result of erosion. Also, the concrete retaining wall in front of the seating area severely leans toward the football field.

"Some of the things that we need to do to the bleachers could be done without a lot of expense, we just need people to do it," McKenzie Principal Randy Williams said. "It would be something that wouldn't be real expensive to do. Ideally the thing to do, is to take the bleachers up, pour a concrete slab and set them back on the new slab, but we don't have the money to do that."

Williams believes the problem with the concrete pad and retaining wall began after Hurricane Opal saturated the area with torrential rains in 1995. He said from what he can gather, the structures were built about a year before the hurricane, and the rest is history.

This past summer, Rep. Charles Newton appropriated $4,000 to McKenzie to overhaul their lighting at the football stadium.

The cost of the project totaled $4,500. The Parent Teacher Association also purchased a new public address system this year.

In the summer of 2002, McKenzie doubled the size of its concession stand, including a new roof. Also, bathroom facilities at the stadium were renovated.

"We did some remodeling in the bathrooms," Williams said. "We built some bigger stalls for the women, and put a new roof on it."

Until this year, when Georgiana High School built its new field house, McKenzie was the only school in Butler County with a n adequate field house.

"The field house was built over 20 years ago," Williams said. "It still serves a purpose and is nice. We're like everybody else, we would like new and updated facilities, but we know with the current funding situation that's not likely to happen."

Williams said with all the additions, the football stadium enhancements are great.

McKenzie also is the only school in Butler County with facilities for every sport on campus. Most Class 1A schools in the state and many in the higher classifications don't have that luxury as a result of state funding due to a substantial statewide deficit.

"Under the circumstances, I'd say we're competitive with most 1A schools," McKenzie's Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Scott Curd said.

"I've seen some that are better, and some that aren't as good as ours. We take care of what we've got here. When we have a chance to improve the facility financially, we do put money into it. The thing is that none of it's cheap."

Curd said the school is blessed to have its own facilities, but also said there are some advantages and disadvantages in having all your facilities onsite.

"It's good to have your own facilities right here on campus because the kids don't have to get in cars to get to practice," Curd said. "With that, other places I've worked, the cities did the upkeep of the fields. It's kind of a catch 22. If you have your own facilities, and with that, you've got more control over them."

Not all of the facilities in McKenzie are in tipntop shape, but Williams credits several for helping keep them in the shape they are in today and not getting rundown.

"The facilities that we have need some work on them in some areas," Williams said. "With the help we get from the local community, the Quarterback Club and the PTA, we're able to maintain them. Without them, it would be hard to do some of the things we do. Certainly, I would like to have topnofnthenline facilities, but that's just not in the future."

Williams said the school's gymnasium, built in the 1960's, is in relatively good shape. He said the playing area is nice as is the seating, but believes the concession area and locker rooms aren't sufficient. Curd, who also serves as the boy's basketball coach, agrees.

"We are undersized, but for as old as the gym is, the actual playing court is in pretty good shape for its age," Curd said. "Our locker rooms are undersized, and the lobby is as well. There are definitely some places there that we can look into improving, but it takes money. We've got to take care of what we've got and make do."

Williams said in order to keep the gym's concession area, bathrooms and locker rooms in working order; he stresses keeping them clean and sterile.

McKenzie also has a relatively new softball diamond and its own baseball field as well. Williams said the baseball field could use a new fence, but other than that, the facilities are real nice.