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Work to begin soon on new Southeast Whitfield High School athletic facilities

Mar. 20—Several new athletic facilities are scheduled for construction at Southeast Whitfield High School, including new looks for the school's football, baseball and softball fields.

At Monday's Whitfield County Board of Education meeting, the board members approved 5-0 the recommendation of Tyson & Associates Construction Co. based in Ringgold to oversee the project. The contract price is listed at $9,788,602.

The project will include a "new field house for football, soccer and any other spring sports," said Whitfield County Schools Chief Operations Officer Mark Gibson. It will also include a new changing area for visiting teams and renovations to the ticket booth, concessions stand and public restrooms adjacent to the football field.

Gibson said while the field house and changing area will be completely new structures, the current field house at the school will still be used, "just repurposed."

"The old structure that they currently use for a field house, there will be some renovations to it," he said. "But it will house the wrestling team and also some visitor changing rooms for opposing soccer teams or track if they choose to do so."

Renovations to the concession stands and ticket booths are set to include remodeling work to the roof, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) units and other "outside envelope things," Gibson said.

Work is also set to begin on the school's new combination baseball and softball facility. Currently, Southeast's baseball and softball teams play on their own fields. Once the combination project is completed, both teams will play on one field.

"We approved the turf for the combination field a couple weeks ago; this is for the actual brick and mortar portion of it, which will include what amounts to a concession stand and a press box," Gibson said. "Inside that will of course be concessions, public restrooms, changing rooms for both the home and opposing teams, lighting for the field, new fencing, a new scoreboard and new site work."

Preparations are in place to combine Coahulla Creek High School's and Northwest Whitfield High School's baseball and softball fields as well.

"The other two (high school fields) will be almost exactly like this one will be," Gibson said. "Bids for them should be going out within the next week or so. This is really the first of the three. All schools will have an equitable amount of facilities and improvements."

Gibson said work will begin on the Southeast facilities in the coming weeks "so that it can be complete sometime in the summer of 2025."

"The football and soccer field house will be released to the contractors now," he said. "For the work on the ticket booth, concessions and restrooms, we'll release that to them as soon as soccer is over with. That will be complete, however, before this coming football season. So the ticket booth, public restrooms and concessions area will be ready by then."

For the combination baseball and softball field work at Southeast, Gibson said the project will be released to the contractors "as soon as baseball season's over, so they can put turf down and everything else."

"But the prep work will be done by Sept. 16," he said. "The actual turf field itself should be completed by December. But the actual press box and concessions stand will still be under construction and it won't be complete until June of 2025. Teams will be able to play on it, but they'll have to work around what's under construction."

Also at the meeting, the board members unanimously approved a contract agreement with Dalton-based Felker Construction Co. for $2,429,143 to renovate the HVAC units at Dawnville Elementary School.

"That will be done to the main part of the building," Gibson said. "In the process of replacing that HVAC, they'll also be tearing out the ceiling as well to get to the old units."

In doing so, LED light fixtures within the school will also need to be replaced, Gibson said.

"Doing that, you have to tear not the roof, but the ceiling down to get to the old units to pull them out," he said. "So, in that case, we have to replace the lighting either way. But it will be new energy-efficient LED lighting."

Felker Construction is scheduled to begin preparation work on the elementary school this summer.

"They also have to order equipment, and recent history has told us that getting that equipment will take the better part of the year," Gibson said.

He said the full renovation should be completed by the summer of 2025.

"Because when they get in there and work on the HVAC, you have to close the entire school down," Gibson said. "Obviously with school going on, we can't do it. So, we have to do it on weekends or holidays, whatever time allows. July 2025 is the expected completion date, so long as the supplies get here like they should."