Tuesday, July 09, 2002

Board approves Highlands' new field

        By Earnest Winston, ewinston@enquirer.com
       The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — The Fort Thomas school board Monday approved a plan to replace the grass field in the football stadium at Highlands High School with a $260,000 synthetic surface.

        It will cost an additional $140,000 to prepare the present Bermuda grass field for the conversion.

        Members of the school board had removed the item from the agenda earlier Monday, but ended up acting on it when former Cincinnati Bengal Cris Collinsworth, one of the backers for the new field, showed up to provide details.

        School Board Chairman Brad Fennell said several members of the Fort Thomas community, including Mr. Collinsworth, “have come forward to us and expressed a desire to install a synthetic surface on our playing field. They asked for participation from us, as well as a few other entities in the community, including the city, the Boosters and the junior football league,” which plays on the field.

        “We would be receiving a tremendously durable, efficient and overall fantastic field surface at nearly half the cost of what it is truly worth because of connections (Mr. Collinsworth) has,” Mr. Fennell said.

        Mr. Fennell said school board members made it clear that the district is in no position to help pay for the new surface.

        “This is really kind of a one-time shot,” Mr. Collinsworth told the board. “We're trying to do something that's good for everybody.

        “You can literally play on it year-round.”

        The surface could be in place by the high school team's first game in August, Mr. Fennell said.

        Mr. Fennell said the district would have been hard-pressed to find funding for the project because of financial problems, for which he blamed inequities in the state educational funding formula.


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