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Stage set for county leaders to discuss paying for tennis court repairs

Grady County Board of Education members signaled their willingness to partner with the Grady County Commissioners to invest in rehabilitation of tennis courts at Barber Park.
School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard said he has met with Grady County Recreation Director Becky Bracewell to discuss the need for resurfacing of the courts, which have large cracks and divots in the playing surfaces.
The Cairo High School boys and girls tennis teams utilize the courts for approximately two to three months annually and high school home meets are played at the Barber Park complex.
Grady County officials have said the school system and county entered into an agreement when the tennis courts were built regarding the maintenance of the courts, but the school system has no record of any agreement and the county has not produced a copy of an agreement.
Dr. Gilliard said his recommendation would be to enter into discussions with the county commission to discuss a joint effort to improve the tennis courts.
Grady County Board of Education Vice Chairman Jeff Worsham said that since the high school teams use the courts he believed the school system should share in some of the cost of the repairs.
Board members Robbie Chaplin and Laura Register both commented on the poor conditions of the existing courts.
Bracewell told the superintendent she has only been able to identify one contractor who could do the work and that estimate is $34,000 from Nelson Platero of Crawfordville, Fla.
“I believe tennis season begins sometime in February and Mrs. Bracewell said it would take six weeks to complete the work so I don’t think there is time to get started and have it done before the tennis season begins,” Dr. Gilliard said.
Board member Teresa Gee Harris asked how the school system would cover its share of the cost of the repairs. Dr. Gilliard indicated the money would have to come out of Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds earmarked for athletics.
Ms. Harris questioned how that would impact the proposed new track at Cairo High School. The superintendent said that the cost of a new track would be approximately $1 million and if that project was to be done out of the current ESPLOST it would have to be at the end of the tax or either included in a 2020 ESPLOST.
“We’re not talking about doing this and not the track. The tennis courts would be in addition to the track project,” Dr. Gilliard said.
The board consented to Gilliard meeting with the county commission to discuss a mutually agreeable share of the project expense and bring back a recommendation to the board for its consideration.
The superintendent said he would also solicit bids from additional vendors to insure the system was obtaining the best price possible.
In related business, Superintendent Gilliard updated the school board on the delay in general contractor CGM completing a 23 item punch list for the Southside Elementary ABC project. The system is holding approximately $280,000 until completion of the project.
School officials, architect Ray Finger and CGM officials are scheduled to meet next week to agree on a value of the work to be done, deduct it from the final payment and issue a final payment to the general contractor.
Dr. Gilliard told the board that many of the items that have yet to be completed or issues resolved date back to July 25, 2017.
School system personnel also discussed concerns with the cracks in the floors at the Southside project. Dr. Gilliard said some steps could have been taken that would have prevented the cracks and he noted that there had not been issues with the floors in the new Cairo High School College and Career Center or other commercial projects done during the same timeframe by the same subcontractor.
Lastly, Dr. Gilliard reported that architect Greg Smith had submitted final plans for the renovation of the Grady County Vocational Center at CHS and was awaiting approval from the state, which is anticipated shortly.

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