Complex officials seeking perfect dirt for arena floor

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Officials with the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Complex arecollecting samples and calling in professionals in order to findthe perfect dirt.

The Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Commission is working with aconsultant from Tennessee to try to determine the optimum soil typeto spread across the floor of the arena. The arena now has atemporary clay-based sand collected from a mining site in thecounty.

“This material will allow us to both economically and safelymove through this transitional period from a sandy material to dirtthat will be conducive to all equine disciplines,” said QuinnJordan, facility manager of the Lincoln County Multi-PurposeFacility. “We’re still in the process of tweaking the dirt, andwe’re looking into a consultant who has received a sample of whatwe currently have in the arena and other source materials,available in the area, that we can add.”

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The previous arena floor, a river-washed sand donated to thecounty by Ridge Point Consultants, was determined to be too looseand deep. It did not provide proper footing for equine events andwas removed from the arena in mid-March.

“The texture of the sand was not conducive to good arenaflooring,” Jordan said. “We had to remove it and add a materialthat will allow us to meet the needs of multi-disciplinerequirements.”

Multi-purpose complex officials attempted to doctor theriver-washed sand before finally giving up and disposing of itapproximately 45 days after the sand was laid.

Jordan said 50 percent of the sand was removed first, and theremaining amount was tilled into the base of the arena in anattempt to incorporate firmness into the floor, but the tilling wasunsuccessful. The sand would not bind and finally all of it wasremoved.

Jordan said the clay-based material currently covering the arenafloor is doing the job and, more importantly, safe for visitinghorses. The previous river-washed sand provided so deep a footingthat it was unsafe for horses to run on.

“For us to not be objective would not be beneficial to thepeople of Lincoln County – we’re going to look at every option tomake sure the arena is as good as it can be,” Jordan said. “Theclay-based material isn’t the long-term fix. Is it good enough torun on? Yes. Is it the final answer? No.”

So far, the new floor is holding up.

“We’ve had several barrel racing and roping competitions, andwith intensive working it will do the job,” said Pat McCullough,chairman of the multi-purpose commission. “It’s not a Cadillac, butit’s not a Volkswagen either.”

While the previous river-washed sand was donated to the county,the commission had to pay $3,500 plus the cost of diesel fuel tohaul in and put down the new clay-based flooring. But theexpenditure was no major setback, as the multi-purpose complex iscurrently operating under budget, McCullough said.

“Against our budget for half the fiscal year, on an operationsbase we’re sitting at around 48 percent,” he said. “We’re still ontrack.”

McCullough said the complex has been able to operate soefficiently because of its Back on Track program, which hasgenerated more than $37,000 in direct donations and in kindsupport.

“That counts significantly,” he said. “All these things are usedto offset, in a number of cases, matching grant support. That way,you’re not really spending dollars out of the county.”