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Booster club pitches plan for softball complex work

A softball booster club representative briefed Brookhaven school board members Tuesday night on a proposal to continue improvements to the softball practice facility.

     David Culpepper outlined plans by the BHS Lady Panthers Softball Booster Club to fully enclose the practice facility at the district softball complex at Mamie Martin Elementary School. The booster club will pay the enclosure cost entirely.

     Culpepper requested that in conjunction with this enclosure, the district agree to place turf and padding in the practice facility. Currently, there’s only a concrete slab. By replacing the concrete, the padding and turf will allow the softball teams to practice closer to game conditions, Culpepper said.

     He also pointed out that portions of the current slab have begun to chip, a problem that will only become more severe.

     “With those balls constantly hitting the slab, it’s going to start chipping,” Culpepper said.

     Culpepper would like the turf to be installed next summer and presented board members with various turf samples and quotes.

     Brookhaven Athletic Director Tommy Clopton supported the move. He said a lot of winter practice time is lost because of cold weather and rain.

     Culpepper estimated the enclosure will take about two weeks to put up. He wants to begin once slow pitch softball is over, but the final date is pending.

     “As soon as we get the approval from the board,” Culpepper said.

     The enclosure would allow a space between the walls and the roof and include fan units to circulate air in the practice space.

     When improvements are completed, the booster club investment will total $31,250 in the practice facility, Culpepper said.

     “This project started back in 2009,” Culpepper said.

     At the moment, the facility is a slab with metal tresses and a roof, Culpepper said, which the booster club paid for that at a cost of about $20,000. The club added gutters last year.

     Board members took Culpepper’s proposal under advisement and made no official action.

     Resident Jeanette Newton also appeared before the board to air complaints about the upkeep of Fannie Mullins Alternative School. According to Newton, the condition of the school campus has been allowed to remain in disrepair.

     “Mullins campus has been neglected all summer,” Newton said, explaining that some maintenance was finally done last week after some time.

     Newton lives near Mullins and presented a petition she said was signed by the residents of her neighborhood.

     “We’re all in one accord over there,” Newton said.

     Newton criticized administrators for allowing the condition of the campus to deteriorate. She believes the condition of the school is a bad reflection on the district and brings down the property values of the neighborhood.

     Board members did not speak to the matter and when asked after the meeting, Superintendent Dr. Lisa Karmacharya declined to comment about Newton’s charges.

     Board members also took up the issues of a Brookhaven High School band handbook. Board member Willie Harrison questioned whether the board needed to officially sanction the handbook, created by band director Clay Whittington.

     Board attorney Bob Allen suggested some oversight needed to be in place.

     “No one needs to have the ultimate say without at least the superintendent looking at it,” Allen said.

     Board members went on to authorize Karmacharya to approve the handbook.

     Karmacharya also briefed board members on the district’s plan to make up days missed due to Hurricane Isaac. Students were previously slated to have Oct. 15, Nov. 19 and Feb. 18 off, but will now have to report on those days.

     Board members approved the updated calendar.