Local company makes major donations for turf
By Jim Perry
Where normally operate shifty running backs and dart-throwing quarterbacks, earth-moving equipment was in place.
By the dawn of the 2016 football season, the efforts will be evident for all to see.
That’s when O’Dell Field at Cushing High School will have its grand reopening. Without grass.
Workers from Continental Concrete in backhoes and road graders began tearing out the turf at O’Dell. When the work is done, it will be replaced by FieldTurf, purchased from the biggest artificial turf company in the nation, according to CHS head football coach Barrett Shupe.
“About 70 percent of Division I college teams have it and 20 NFL teams have it on their game or practice fields,” Shupe said.
“I can’t wait to see it finished.”
Workers from Continental during the last few days have begun the process of taking off the topsoil at O’Dell Field. The Holderreads, Shupe and Koln Knight, superintendent of schools said, made a “generous donation.”
“They have donated labor, equipment and expertise,” Knight said. “Two people on their staff have installed FieldTurf.”
Knight said the base bid from FieldTurf was $410,866.
“If we did this on our own, it would have been in the $750,000 to $900,000 range,” he said. “And this quality of turf would boost that up even more.”
Knight emphasized the work is being done through donations and because the board of education at Cushing Public Schools was pennywise at the right times.
“People say, ‘I don’t remember voting on this,’” Knight said. “That’s because they didn’t.
“It’s not being done with bond money.
“When you do bond issue, you still have to bid everything out and are forced into guessing costs. Sometimes a bond can go upside down and cost you more than you thought.”
Cushing voters in March 2014 supported a $39.73 million bond issue for construction of Cushing Middle School and other improvements throughout the district. Construction bids on CMS and other projects, Knight said, “came in low enough that we were able to do other things.”
“We were able to do everything we said we would and more,” he said. “LED lighting in parking lots, two more roads to the middle school, improvement at the high school ... lots of things.”
Cushing’s board of education, Knight said, has been saving money since before April of 2012, when a $41.5 million school bond issue lost when taken to a vote of the public.
“We wanted to make sure we could cover all the funds if we needed them,” Knight said. “The bond covered itself.”
Improving O’Dell Field, Knight said, “wasn’t even on radar until Continental made its substantial donation.”
“The timing was good. People need to know the condition of the district is in good shape. This is being done mostly with money we had saved.”
Shupe said FieldTurf will improve the usefulness of the facility off East Main Street.
“Practice is the first benefit,” he said. “There’s never a day weather can affect your practice unless it’s lightning.
“The lines are always on field. And obviously it can be used by multiple programs at a time: the band, baseball infield, soccer, summer agilities.
“And we won’t have to paint and water.”
FieldTurf’s top half-inch, Knight said, is called “Cool Play.” It is made up of organic cork broken into small pieces and is designed to reduce heat.
“It’s a product created a few years ago,” he said.
“Everybody naturally assumes it’s for football,” Knight said. “But soccer, the band and hosting playoff games will benefit.
“It’s going to bring a lot of people to town.”