High school gym to get new bleachers

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 4/18/01.

The bleachers on the east side of the high school gym will be replaced within the next eight months. The bleachers need to be replaced by Jan. 1, 2002, to comply with new state safety requirements.

The school board, on Tuesday, April 10, approved getting bids on new bleachers for the gym. The bleachers on the football field will also need to be replaced to meet the new code. The other bleachers in the district need better railings and minor modifications to comply with the safety standards.

For the high school bleachers, the school board was torn between the number of seats and having back rests. Currently, the center section on this side are padded and have backrests, but these need to be replaced due to the large gaps between these seats and the rest of the bleachers.

The board opted for 12 rows of seats with 26 inches between rows. This would allow 588 seats on the east side of the gym. Currently, there are 700 seats on eachside, for a total seating of 1,400.

The other alternative were bleachers with 32 inches between rows. These bleachers would be able to have back rests, but only 10 rows could be installed, limiting seating to 470.

Another option would have been to have some rows with backrests and others without, which would have provided seating for 540.

Pat Flanders, school board chairman, led the faction wanting at least some of the bleachers with backrests. This type of seating is needed to make the gym accessible for people with bad backs or who have difficulty in sitting in the bleachers, himself included, said Flanders.

The district would not have been able to buy the backs immediately, and might have used fund raising to purchase backs.

Board members Dan Andersen and Maurice Dosdall were concerned that the seating capacity would be reduced too much. Andersen pointed out that the other side of the gym would eventually be replaced, too, which could reduce the gym's capacity to below 1,000.

Andersen, Dosdall, Deb Glenz, and Gretchen O'Fallon voted for the 588-seat option. Flanders, Fern Roberg, and Bob See voted against it.

The estimated cost of all the bleacher purchases and repairs is $115,000. The district will use a health and safety levy to pay for it. The state picks up a third of that cost, and the local taxpayers two-thirds.

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