By Ashley Rader
The new Michael D. Whitehead Sports Complex at T.A. Dugger Junior High School should be complete in time for the first pitch this spring.
The TAD sports complex will sport new baseball and softball fields and supporting structures such as dugouts, scorers’ tower and restrooms.
Assistant Superintendent Richard VanHuss said a conservative estimate for the completion of the ballfields would be by the second week of February. Ground was broken on the project in April 2013.
He said some of the aspects that remain are weather-dependent, such as putting the finishing touches on the dugouts and the scorers’ tower. Other projects that need to be completed are hooking up the scoreboard, installing nettings down the baselines and at the backstop and tidying up the spaces around the fields.
Even after the complex is open for use, VanHuss said it will still be a work in progress until it is exactly how it was envisioned. For example, a community member has volunteered to install stucco on the inside of the dugouts, which more than likely will not be completed until the field is opened and weather conditions are better.
“It could take one or two years before it is like we want it to be,” he said.
The final estimated cost of the fields is $385,960, which is more than the original $373,000 budget. VanHuss said all of the funding came from reserves and none came from the half-cent sales tax proceeds.
The system also received monetary and in-kind donations that helped complete the project. Michael Whitehead, for whom the complex is named, donated the fencing and scoreboards for the fields, which are valued at close to $50,000.
“That is the donation that got the project started,” VanHuss said.
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