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Board OKs Decatur High practice fields

By Bayne Hughes 340-2432

The Decatur school board approved $45,000 on Tuesday for a $170,000 Decatur High practice field project.

The booster club plans to build a laser-graded, irrigated practice field with certified turf for the football and soccer teams and marching band on what is known as "The Hill." The roughly 2.5 acres are on the southeast corner campus along Somerville Road and adjacent to the baseball field and Ogle Stadium.

The Athletic Booster Club's John Godwin told the school board at its monthly meeting that boosters wants to build two 40-yard football fields that meet regulation in width but not length.

Principal Mike Ward said the soccer team would continue
using Ogle Stadium for its matches, but the practice field would not be regulation size or have the lighting necessary for pre-daylight savings time matches.

Ogle Stadium

The teams try to use Ogle Stadium only for practices and performances only so as to not overuse the field that Austin High also uses for football.

Ward said the school needs the practice field, particularly to get the band and soccer team back to practicing on campus. He doesn't like that the band has to cross Prospect Drive to practice at Delano Park or that the soccer teams have to travel to Point Mallard and Jack Allen Recreation Complex.

The soccer teams could also use the locker facilities at the stadium.

Godwin said the athletic booster club, with financing through the Sexton Foundation, would contribute $75,000 to the project. The band boosters would contribute $5,000, split over two years, and the high school would contribute $15,000, split over three years, from its athletic fund.

Superintendent Sam Houston said the $45,000 is similar to the amount the school board gave Austin High School recently for baseball field upgrades.

The project will require $4,100 spent on the abandonment of five Alabama Department of Environmental Management test wells.

Godwin said ADEM established the wells after a gas station across the street had some leak problem, but the wells are no longer needed.

Godwin said he's hoping to complete the fields in time for soccer season next spring.

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