Ronnie Strausser with Joyce Crane Services climbs up one of the light standards at Gerald Prim Stadium in preparation to lower the pole to the ground to replace it with new lights, which will be brighter and more efficient. The lighting upgrades are just one of many projects in Sulphur Springs ISD this summer
Staff Photo By Angela Pitts

SSISD board gets update on facilities upgrades

Projects range from new stadium lights to renovating 50-year-old restrooms

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

July 16, 2008 - Regular classes may be out for the summer, but Sulphur Springs campuses have been anything but quiet.

Several schools and facilities have undergone upgrades and improvements during the summer break, according to Sulphur Springs Independent School District Director of Plant Operations Dale Guest.

Guest showed school board trustees progress on those structures in a photo presentation during the regular July school board meeting Monday night.

Work began Tuesday morning at the Gerald Prim Stadium and Eagle Field, where crews were installing poles for lights. Currently there are 12 lights on each standard. The upgrade will add more lighting poles, with 20 lights per pole.

In other work, a 10-foot drive between the tennis courts and athletic track at the high school is being paved at the request of city officials to make it more accessible in the event of a medical emergency.

A "weir wall" at the Gladys Alexander entrance to the tennis courts is also having to be reconstructed. Dirt moved in that area will be used to form a terrace on the west side of the track and softball and tennis area.

The latest phase of work on the track project is completed. The track is an asphalt surface covered in a synthetic surface of rubber pellets and glue. The black synthetic layer was then sprayed over with red paint and the lanes striped. High-jump pits and other areas have also been paved, and grass put out has taken root and grown thick. Sprinkler controls and electric plugs are also functioning.

Trustee Jack Chubb asked if a sign had been posted noting that no bikes, trikes, skateboards or the like are permitted on the new track. It was suggested that one be posted.

School administrators also noted that the track is not open to the general public, as is the case with the middle school track. Entry to the new track is secured with a fence with a locked gate.

At the middle school, the gym floor has been refinished to match the new bleachers. The floor has been completed, with a new finish put on it to make it "really shine." Workers have begun striping it, as well.

The middle school restrooms, which were constructed in the 1950s, are also being worked on. The facilities. The old partitions and fixtures were ripped out, along with steam heaters which haven't been used since the 1970s. Other changes are being made to comply with Americans With Disabilities Act standards.

Tthe middle school restrooms are "just about ready for the tile" and in general are "beginning to look a whole lot better." The restroom partitions dividing stalls will be the last portion of the project, expected to be completed shortly before school starts in August.

The windows at the SSISD Administration Building have been covered, replacing the old blue and gold windows with solid-colored dark covers. The upstairs portion of the building is also being remodeled to accommodate alternative classes, according to Guest. Leaking skylights were repaired and covered, and classroom restrooms and air conditioning closets are being constructed. Duct work, framework and old plaster were covered, and older lights were replaced.

At Travis Elementary School, a drop ceiling was installed, which provides "a way to work above the area" but also covers unsightly communications wiring. Changes are also being made in the cafeteria, and a teacher work area received new cabinetry, conduits and wiring. Vending machines were taken out of the front lobby and moved to the hallway exiting onto the playground.

At Douglas Intermediate School, the windows at the front entrance are being replaced with "storefront" windows. The ceilings were lowered, covering up wiring, and new lighting and a new coat of paint brightened up the area.

Work has also been done at the Special Services Building, where the ceiling and air conditioning ducts were ripped out.

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