Sportsplex field house work continues

Published 6:00 am Thursday, March 23, 2006

The exterior of the octagonal field house at the Lawrence CountySportsplex in complete except for a few minor projects, butofficials do not expect to reach the April 1 target date forcompletion of the building.

Instead, they are now targeting a completion date of June 1,said Ron Wojcik, a Georgia-Pacific employee overseeing the project.The Georgia-Pacific Monticello Mill stepped up to take on theproject when city and county officials were unable to securefederal or state grants for the project and low-interest loansfailed to meet the costs.

In addition to assisting with materials and supplies, many ofthe volunteers working on the building are G-P employees, Wojciksaid. An upcoming major mill outage, which will require allemployees’ presence for equipment upgrades and other activities,will delay some work on the project.

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Although G-P is covering a large share of the costs, Wojcik saidthere have been many contributions of supplies, labor and fundingfrom officials, individuals and businesses in Monticello,Brookhaven, Wesson and Silver Creek.

“The list is long,” he said.

Much of the exterior work is complete, Wojcik said. Permanentsteps to the second-story of the building were finished Wednesdaywhen work on the handrails was completed.

Doors still need to be painted, handicap access ramps to therestrooms formed and a privacy wall around the restrooms built tocomplete the exterior, he said.

Work on the interior continues. Workers Wednesday continued toinstall wall paneling in expectation of a contractor coming inlater this week to build crossbeams for the nine-foot ceiling.

“It’s been slow because of the shape of the building,” saidMichael Amic, a G-P employee working on the paneling. “Only onepiece of paneling went up that didn’t require some cutting andsizing.”

Plumbing and other work also continues, Wojcik said.

“We’re close, but there’s a lot to do yet,” he said, citing asuspended ceiling and bathrooms as the major projects remaining.”We’re done on the outside except for some painting and detailwork. There are a lot of details still to be done.”

District One Supervisor Steve Garrett visited the site Wednesdayand said the building was “absolutely fantastic.”

“I don’t think there’s anything like it anywhere,” Garrett said.”I’ve dreamed of this for a long time.”

When completed, the building will host public restrooms and aconcession stand on the first floor. The second floor will containa conference room, small storage area and a press box facing eachof the facility’s four softball fields. The second floor will alsohave restrooms and a walk-in shower for referees and otherofficials to use.

At approximately $250,000, project bids came in much higher thanexpected when the town advertised for a contractor to construct thebuilding. That forced the town to postpone the project.

When Georgia-Pacific expressed an interest in assisting with theproject, the town took out a $100,000 low-interest loan through aCapital Assistance Program to fund the project.

The old concession stand will be moved to the soccer fields toprovide food and beverages to that growing area of the facility,said Kenny Platt, a member of the Lawrence County SportsplexAssociation, an advisory council to the board of aldermen.