Arena officials, users find agreement over flooring

Published 5:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2008

A new flooring for the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose ComplexArena could be installed in a matter of weeks after facilitymanager Quinn Jordan and a group of local equestrians reached anagreement on the materials that should be used.

In a meeting Wednesday, Jordan and the group agreed to use astandard, sandy loam, brown dirt commonly found in low-lying areasand around water sources for mixture with sand donated from PikeCounty’s Fred Boyd. Pending approval of the materials by themulti-purpose commission, the only question remaining is where thebrown dirt can be obtained, whether donated or purchased.

“We’re going to add 9 inches of the brown dirt and 3 to 4 inchesof the sandy material donated by Mr. Boyd,” Jordan said. “Theserecommendations come from multiple consultants.”

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Jordan said there were several options available for findingsources of the brown dirt including, possibly, on the multi-purposefacility grounds. All options will be explored before a finaldecision is made.

“We will decide, as a group, what we all feel offers the bestconsistency to fulfill the footing needs across all disciplines forthe arena,” Jordan said.

Once the source of the brown dirt is located, Jordan saidvolunteer and jail inmate labor would be used to prep the arena.The existing arena floor will be stripped out, taking intoconsideration the desired height that will result in the additionof 12 inches of the new material mixture.

“We’re gonna strip it down far enough that when we add this newmixture back in, we will hit a certain point that will be conduciveto the height requirements of the perimeter fence,” Jordansaid.

Before the new materials are installed, Jordan said theleft-over river sand brought in months ago from Franklin County -the first unsuccessful attempt to refloor the arena – would berecycled as a 1-inch moisture barrier at the base. This way, Jordansaid, the donated sand would not be wasted.

The commission is splitting the cost of the efforts concernedequestrians who are headed up by National Barrel Horse AssociationDirector Valorie Oglesby.

Jordan estimated the total cost of replacing the arena floorwould range between $5,000 and $10,000, with each party picking upits half of the cost. Jordan said the cost estimates are subject tochange based on the location of the brown dirt source and the costof transporting it to the arena.

The only hang-up remaining between the commission and theequestrians is the price of the consultant who will be on hand tooversee the installation and leveling of the new floor.

The commission has required that the consultant be present, buthas said it will not share the cost of the consultant’s work. Theconsultant is estimated to cost up to $2,000, Jordan said.

Jordan said he would urge the commission to reconsider helpingcover the cost of the consultant at the next meeting, but thecommission’s approval is not guaranteed.

The equestrian group, meanwhile, does not think the presence ofa consultant is necessary. They believe the brown dirt/sand mixturewill do the job.

Furthermore, if the consultant must be present, the group thinksit is unfair that the commission is not agreeing to help pay thecost.

“(We) brought it to the commission that we not use thisconsultant before, but the commission has decided that they need anexpert or a knowledgeable person to help set up the arena,” Oglesbysaid.

South Mississippi Horse Association Director Linda Case alsofeels the consultant is unnecessary.

“I think we have enough people in this county that have riddenand worked on and built arenas that we shouldn’t have to pay a feefor some consultant to tell us if the ground is correct or not,”she said. “It’s the main hold-up for us – that we have to raise themoney for the consultant’s fee.”

Despite the differences between the equestrians and thecommission over the requirement of a consultant, all otherdisagreements have ceased.

“I think we are making progress,” said Leigh Ann Richardson, anarena frequenter and member of both SMHA and NBHA. “I feel likewe’re being listened to, the effort is being made and I think theboard and volunteers are coming together. The solution is going tobe very soon.”

Richardson said the new dirt/sand mixture should provide goodfooting for horses of all equine disciplines – the number onecondition set forth by the commission before the dirt search began.She said that, unlike the current, clay-based arena floor, the newmixture would not pack into a hard covering, which is dangerous forhorse and rider alike.

“When a horse weighs 1,200 pounds, you need adequate footing,”Richardson said. “These horses aren’t just trotting, they’re goingfull speed. Horses have to have enough give to get into a turn, butit’s got to hold them also.”

Richardson said the new dirt/sand mixture would give the arena’sfooting the right balance of give and take.

Pending commission approval, all the remains now is to find asource of the agreed-upon brown dirt.

Jordan said he would appreciate the assistance of anyone who hassuch a dirt on their property or knows where to find it. Anyonewishing to sell or donate brown dirt may bring a sample by themulti-purpose office on Beltline Drive. Jordan can be reached atthe office at (601) 823-9064.