It was inspiring to see people from the community, Halifax County High School football players, cheerleaders, football coaches, cheerleading coaches, school staff and others hard at work last Tuesday morning painting and cleaning up Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium.
Thanks to Dale Harris and Kerry Nelson who kicked off this effort, and the student and adult volunteers contributing to the clean-up, spruce-up effort, Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium will have a much-needed freshening and much-better appearance for the coming football season and school year.
It was another fine example of the volunteerism we so proudly have in our community. My personal thanks, and I’m sure the thanks of many others, go out to all of those that got involved in the stadium spruce-up effort and the attempt to make the stadium a nicer place.
While my sincere thanks and praise goes out those involved in the stadium clean-up effort, it brings up the question — why haven’t school system officials, most especially the school board, given all of the banter in recent years about how bad a shape Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium is in, not undertaken a basic stadium clean-up, paint-up and freshening up effort as a school system project?
Why has the school system let things get to the point where people can no longer stand it, and people from the community, coaches, teachers and students have to come out, take their personal time, raise donations and/or pull money out of their own pockets to help defray the cost to do the job the school system should be doing, but is not doing?
I realize I am likely now in hot water with some folks in Halifax for asking that question. Asking that question certainly isn’t going to make me any friends — more likely lose some — but it is a legitimate question.
I fully expect the quick answer from school system officials will be two-fold — no money in the budget for it, and not enough maintenance personnel to do it because personnel are needed for other projects around the county’s schools.
Okay — that’s a reasonable answer. I understand. I covered school board for 25 years of my journalism career here at The Gazette, and I understand the issues that come with budget shortages and short staff.
Despite the likely response of no money and no available personnel, it is hard for me to wrap my head around the concept that school system personnel can’t find or can’t designate a block of time and a team of three to four people at some point once every two to three years to do some painting and freshening up at the stadium. The community, the coaches, the student-athletes — everybody who attends an event or has business at the stadium, deserves some form of effort from the school system.
The stadium is a major place in the community where people gather for an event. There is Friday night high school football, middle school and junior varsity football and there is middle school and high school soccer during the spring,
By my calculation, Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium is one of the largest places the public gathers to attend events.
By my calculation, Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium is the fourth largest venue in Halifax County in terms of size and crowds attending events. My top three are South Boston Speedway, VIRginia International Raceway at Alton and the grandstand facility at the Halifax County Fairgrounds during fair week.
Given that Tuck Dillard Memorial Stadium is a place where the public frequently gathers for high school and middle school sports events you would think school system officials and the school board would want the stadium to look as clean and fresh as possible.
I know school superintendent Dr. Mark Lineberg, high school officials and others in the community are pushing hard to get a new stadium built. I wholeheartedly support that effort.
The reality is, though, even if the funding was available today (which it is not) and all of the necessary paperwork was completed today (which it is not), it would still likely be close to two years, perhaps more, before a new stadium could be in place.
In the meantime, as a practical matter of common sense and a duty to student-athletes, their parents and the public, school system officials and the school board need to take steps to take better care of the stadium facility they have — even if it is bad — and do it the best they can until a new stadium can be built or something better can be done.
In the present situation, it appears that has not been done. As a result, concerned parents of student-athletes and others have apparently reached the point of saying “enough is enough” and have come forward and put on their backs a responsibility and task the school system should be shouldering.
To all of the people and the students who were out in the near 90-degree temperatures last Tuesday morning working to start freshening up and paint the stadium, and to those that will participate in this week’s two “stadium work days,” I give you a huge thank you and a big pat on the back.
It’s just a shame you are having to do the work that should be the responsibility of others.