By Jack Gurner
WATER VALLEY – The Blue Devil Booster Club is about to undertake projects to improve both the looks and the safety of the Municipal Football Stadium.
“The Booster Club is asking permission to remodel the press box,” Coach Brad Embry told the School Board at their regular meeting July 19. Embry said that the renovations would include adding a catwalk and painting.
“At the same time we want to move the fence a little further from the field on the home side,” Embry added. “It will give us more room to operate and be a little bit safer.”
The fence is currently right up against the concrete walkway at the bottom of the step/seats. The Booster Club plan is to use metal cups that are screwed to the concrete to mount the fence up against the bottom step, he explained.
Board member Casey Washington asked if having the concrete directly behind the home side fence could be dangerous if a tackle were to go into it.
Embry said that it could be, but none of the options for hitting the fence were good.
The coach continued that the fence on the visitor’s side would have to be moved as well, but he didn’t plan to tackle that project this year. “We have to put padding around it to keep kids from hitting a pole that won’t give.”
He said moving it would be more difficult and would require some help from the City. “That’s something I am going to talk to Mr. Hart about. It’s going to take some equipment.”
One of the problems is dealing with a ditch that runs along that side of the field. Embry said the best solution would be to install a culvert. “That would be the best thing, but coming up with the money to do it…”
Returning to the home side fence, Embry said the planned move would put it further away from the field. “Somebody can always get hurt. You go to Winona and they have a brick wall a lot closer than that.”
The cost for moving the fence will be about $200 – $250, according to Embry. “That’s something we thought we could afford to do now.”
He emphasized that a part of sideline safety is having the space to get out of the way when a play is coming toward the sideline. “When everybody yells ‘get back’ there is room to get back. It’s not necessarily somebody hitting something; it’s somebody hitting other kids…or coaches.”
Washington asked, “Are y’all looking for permission or money?”
Embry’s quick no response to the money question drew laughter from the Board members.
Washington said that the board could offer permission, but not money, “because we are broke.”
“Permission,” Embry said, but added that donations were welcome.
After a discussion of some possible future projects, Washington said that he was glad to see the work already underway at the sports facility. “I appreciate what you are doing over there.”
Embry reported that progress was also being made on getting some 25-second clocks. “Valley Tool is helping us.”
He explained that the clocks were expensive and speculated that the timepieces must be lined with gold. “There’s no way they cost that much.”
“We’ve got the money to buy and install one,” Embry said of the approximately $2500 cost, “and, we’re selling ads. Anybody who wants to buy one gets their name on it. Put that in the paper.”
Although Embry’s comment was in jest, the Booster Club is looking for funding to support the clock project. Anyone wishing to buy advertising under the clock or make a donation can contact Embry at (662) 473-2115.
After the discussion, Board members voted to allow the Booster Club to make the modifications and improvements to the press box and fence.
Work on the press box will begin Saturday with labor provided by Booster Club volunteers, Embry said.