Field Turf Is Being Installed at Johnson-Brock High School Football Field Starting Last Week
Work was scheduled to begin last week towards installation of Field Turf at the Johnson-Brock High School football field.
Dirt work is the first step in the process and was expected to start June 5.
The time which the dirt work takes depends upon whether the contractor runs into any soft spots. The contractor told school officials that it should take three to four days if everything proceeds as planned, Johnson-Brock Superintendent Jeff Koehler said.
Trenching for drain tile and installation of rock will follow dirt work. The turf will be installed on about an eight-inch rock base, he said.
Koehler said that if installation of rock proceeded without interruption, the carpet may be installed at the end of June.
“If the weather cooperates and things go as planned, the project should be completed by (Wednesday), Aug. 1. Two-a-day football practices start Monday, Aug. 6. The boys have football camp Monday, July 16. We’ll be really excited if it is completed before then,” the superintendent said.
After the project is finished, Koehler said that there are a lot of small items that will need taken care of. Those include installing a fence on the south side of the property to keep vehicles off of the field, he said.
The first Eagle home football game is scheduled for Friday night, Aug. 24, vs. Sterling.
Contributors, Volunteers Sought
Jim Gerking of EnTire Recycling is contributing crushed rubber that will be placed onto the field, as well as his time to see that this project is completed, Koehler said.
“We’re trying to do it as cost effective as we can. We’re looking for contributions and volunteers,” he said.
Johnson-Brock officials received a $60,000 Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality grant. That covers 25 percent of the total cost of the field, Koehler said.
The Johnson-Brock Board of Education approved the Field Turf project at its May meeting. School officials have worked with Gerking and scheduling people to work on the project, the superintendent said.
Field Improvement Planning Started Last Year
Plans for the project got underway during the 2011 football season, Koehler said. He said that Brett Davis, Johnson-Brock Eagles’ head football coach and activities director, mentioned to Koehler about the condition of the grass field.
“I had been down on the field and I noticed that it was in rough shape. Over four to five years, games were played under rainy and wet conditions which hurt the condition of the field,” the superintendent said.
School officials then started to look at options for field improvements. Those options included reseeding, new seeding and sod, and all required underground sprinklers. Cost of those options were in the $20-50,000 range, depending on what direction school officials wanted to proceed, Koehler said.
“We started dreaming about what Field Turf would cost us. We talked with Jim Gerking. Jim did work for us on how much Field Turf would cost and how to do it as inexpensively as possible,” he said.
The options were taken to the school board, which looked at the possible scenarios, Koehler said.
“We figured that sod and new grass would take a lot of work. By the time this football season starts, new grass and sod wouldn’t have a chance to get established. If we did grass again, we would be in the same situation four to five years from now,” he said.
Field Turf Becoming A Trend Across Nebraska
The Field Turf being installed at the Johnson-Brock High School is three-strand with three-eighths of an inch stitching.
“That is tighter and thicker. When you put the rubber and sand inside, it will stand straight up. With one stitch you have three strands stick out in between each one. You’ll see green, not the black rubber. It looks a little nicer and it is easier to maintain,” Koehler said.
The turf is the same as at Memorial Stadium at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
The Johnson-Brock Eagles will be the only eight-man football school in Nebraska to have a turf field. Turf fields are becoming a trend at more Nebraska high schools. Pioneer Field in Nebraska City and Jug Brown Stadium at Falls City have turf fields. Several state colleges play on turf, including Doane, Hastings and Nebraska Wesleyan.
“Those who have turf don’t say anything bad about it. My brother is the athletic director at Nebraska City. He absolutely loves it. You don’t have to worry when it rains or snows. The players are safe. There is no slip. Your kids will be safe all of the time regardless of weather. We may see more and more schools installing turf. Especially with the concussion factor, that becomes an issue,” Koehler said.
Maintenance Advantages of Field Turf
There are advantages to Field Turf, Koehler said. The field would be easier to maintain. There would be no painting and no pylons set out for yard markers.
“There’s been a lot of concerns with concussions. This is a safe avenue for what we want to do. It will be a safe playing surface for our kids,” he said.
More Uses Than Football
The new Field Turf surface will be used for more than Eagle football games, according to the superintendent.
“We plan to use it for physical education classes. It will give us a place for kids to run on and be safe on. Elementary football leagues will be able to practice and play there. The (Eagle) football team will be able to practice on the field, and won’t have to worry about saving the field (condition) and practicing in another area,” Koehler said.
Because the Eagles will be able to practice on the field where games will be played, that will open up the old practice field to be used for parking, he said.
“That will help us with parking for (fans attending) football games,” Koehler said.
Besides the parking situation, he said that the new turf will improve the football team practice area, the youth football program and the possibility of starting a kindergarten through third grade flag football team.
Will Be An Improvement To the Community
Koehler, wrapping up his first year as Johnson-Brock Public Schools superintendent, said that the Field Turf field will add value to the Johnson community.
“It will be another feather in our cap at getting things done. You look at the community of Johnson. The school facilities, baseball fields, the overall community, we are very proud of the community and the way it is presented.”