In the first of four tours of Carthage R-9 school facilities, residents saw bleachers that are sliding or rotting at the 60-year-old football field, tennis courts that are cracking, and a baseball field that dates from the 1930s and meets almost no modern codes.
Dr. Mark Baker, Carthage R-9 assistant superintendent for business, took about 15 Carthage residents on a tour of the athletic facilities available to students.
He said, in some ways, Carthage is lucky because of the number and quality of facilities being shared between the school and city or school and Fair Acres Family Y, but there are facilities that are in desperate need of upgrade or replacement.
“Our assignment is to walk around, do a fact-finding mission for the board of education and Carthage 2020, just so people can see what we have,” Baker said. “We’re not out to pass a bond issue, we’re not out to beg for money, we’re just out to figure out the systems we have in place and how we can make them better, good or bad or indifferent. We’re just walking around seeing what’s happening.”
Baker showed how aging causes problems at K.E. Baker Stadium on River Street. He showed the outdated lockers under the stadium and how the concrete bleachers on the home side of the field are slowly sliding forward on their foundation. On the visitors’ side, steel and wood bleachers are rotting and in need of a major upgrade.
He said Carthage Technical Center students will take on the job of replacing rotted wood and making needed changes to the visitor’s side bleachers.
“I know it’s the visitor’s side, but we still have to make sure we have a safe place for visitors to sit,” Baker said. “But then if we do something for this side, we’ll have better seats here than what the home crowd has.”
Other problems he showed were:
• Cracks in the tennis courts at the middle school that are constantly growing and shrinking because of poor drainage and freezing and thawing. He said district maintenance crews try to keep the cracks patched, but they grow each year.
• A completely outdated baseball field in Carl Lewton Stadium. The stadium doesn’t meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines, dugouts are too small, bathrooms are too small, the locker room and storage rooms beneath the stands leak and steps in the stands are too steep.
Some of the good things he pointed out were:
• Good locker rooms and weight rooms in the athletic annex at the middle school, which was only finished five years ago.
• Good quality soccer field and softball fields at the Fair Acres Sports Complex that are shared with the city.
Page 2 of 2 - • Agreements with the Fair Acres Family Y that allow the school to use the swimming pool at the Y while the Y gets to use the gymnasiums at the high school when available.
Baker also showed residents the master plan for the high school campus, which includes tennis courts, a baseball field, football field and auditorium.
Baker said the goal of the tours is to gather comments and suggestions from participants and present them to the Carthage 2020 facilities committee, then to the R-9 Board of Education.
Doug Dahlman, who works for the district, said he learned things from the tour.
“I knew the restrooms at the baseball field were bad but I didn’t realize they were as bad as they are,” Dahlman said. “I learned quite a bit. I was glad I took the tour. The soccer fields, they were real nice and it looks like the softball fields are in nice shape. They are close to the high school so there’s no reason they couldn’t keep using those facilities. The best-case scenario would be to have everything at the high school.”