CHS retaining wall deemed unsafe

Friday, April 23, 2010

A retaining wall at Cornersville High School's baseball field hasn't been replaced, even though the school board approved a bid for the work at its March meeting, and the elected leaders apparently thought the contractor would start immediately.

Board members agreed they wanted the unsafe, old wall, made from cross ties and rebar, to be replaced with a safe, concrete structure as soon as possible. Now, CHS principal Bob Edens says, work is scheduled to start May 1. By that time, his baseball players will be in a tournament, so no one will be using the field bordered by the retaining wall.

There seem to be several reasons for the delay.

Schools director Roy Dukes said the coach did not want the work done during the season because of the disruption it would cause.

An additional reason was given by Edens. "The guy who got the bid took another job," he said, referring to David Robinson of David Robinson Concrete, who put in a bid of $19,800 for the wall.

Robinson, however, was bidding on specifications put out by the board of education's maintenance department, when he should have been working from an engineer's design.

Repeated attempts to reach maintenance supervisor Sheldon Davis, a candidate for Marshall County Commission in the Aug. 5 election, were unsuccessful.

Don Nelson, Marshall County's director of building codes and zoning, played a part delaying the wall for another reason.

"We want a structural engineer to design it," Nelson said. He explained that a retaining wall over four feet tall has to be properly designed to avoid future problems, like falling down or cracking. The foundation must be adequate with enough rebar to anchor the wall. Nelson first heard about the wall from a school board member who asked him if a building permit was necessary.

Dukes said Tuesday that Jim Bingham of Bingham Engineering had made some drawings, and work on the wall would start in early May. Nelson's office will be checking to make sure the engineer's design is correctly implemented.

Another proposal - to remove the wall entirely and use a bulldozer to slope the ground so no wall is required - has been mentioned.

Another improvement to Cornersville's athletic facilities will be new lights for the football field. Installation of those should start the second week in May.

At its meeting last week, the school board approved the lowest bid, $115,600 from Reynolds Electric of Dickson, Tenn. It guarantees the work for 20 years.

Eight wooden light poles that are more than 25 years old will be replaced with four metal poles.

"The lights will be brighter and cover more area," Edens said in a telephone interview. "This company does lights for athletic fields all over the Southeast."