School damage total $7M; officials hope MEMA meets deductible

OAK GROVE — Lamar County School District officials said a Feb. 10 tornado caused $7 million in damage to Oak Grove High and its baseball and football facilities.

The Hattiesburg-American reports the district has a $50,000 insurance deductible it hopes to have covered by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.

District Construction Manager Johnny Downs said they’ve taken bids on the repairs to the football field, lighting, replacement of the high school’s windows and gym floor, replacement of the score boards for baseball, football and softball facilities and replacement of the maintenance shed.

The School Board will decide at its May 21 meeting whether to accept the bids.

Meanwhile, the district has been making do with trailers on the sports fields, Downs said.

“We’ve got some temporary modulars set up at the football field for dressing rooms for spring sports,” he said. “We have a place for track, soccer, cross country — anything that’s outdoor sports.”

Downs said the school’s carpet will be replaced this summer. “It had a lot of water leakage on it,” he said.

He also said construction crews had tracked a lot of debris onto the carpet when they were fixing the high school’s damaged roof, which had to be completely replaced.

As for the new athletic facilities, Downs said architects are busy drawing plans for the baseball facility and the football field house.

Superintendent Ben Burnett said the baseball facility should be ready in time for the 2014 baseball season and the football field house will be ready by August that year.

Burnett said he is happy with the pace that construction has been progressing.

The district was able to get a lot of work done on the high school under an emergency resolution that freed the district from having to put the projects out for bid. In addition to the roof repairs, workers replaced ceiling tiles, parking lot lights, concrete traffic flow diverters and athletic field fencing.

“The work to the classroom building was done much more quickly than I anticipated, and it’s difficult to do that while school is in session,” Burnett said. “The contractors and the staff of the school worked together to get that done quickly.”

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