Wolf fans will have to wait a little longer to see their Monterey basketball players on a new gym floor.
Monterey’s new gym will not be complete by the first basketball game of the season. Marco Gonzalez, with Volkert Inc., the company charged with overseeing the building’s construction, gave School Board members an unpopular update Thursday, Oct. 13, at their regular meeting. The group’s meeting was held at Vidalia Town Hall’s meeting room because of black mold found at the central office.
“I wish it was better news,” Gonzales said. “I know we were trying to get in there last month, but they sure as heck hadn’t met that date.”
The gym’s storefront, or front entrance, has not been delivered, and Gonzales did not have a date of when the materials would arrive.
From an architectural standpoint, storefront means not necessarily the entrance to a shop, but a type of wall assembly that can be used in a variety of applications. Storefront systems are typically limited to the ground floor, no more than 10 or 12 feet in height.
“Unfortunately that means we cannot close the building’s front end,” Gonzalez said.
He is looking into a Fire Marshall’s inspection date with a temporary partition in the front, so students can take PE. Even with the partition, fans or students still will not be able to assemble for games or pep rally’s in the new gym. Oct. 28 is tentative date for the Fire Marshal.
Gym lockers have also not been delivered, but the first coat of sealer has been applied to the gym floor. The second coat and stripes were suppose to happen Monday. Ac units and lights were functional, according to Gonzales.
Gonzales was also concerned with the gym’s long punch list of other items that needed to be done.
“The punch list is going to be long,” he said, answering School Board member Ricky Raven’s question of punch list length. “If we did a punch list right now, it would be like the Constitution.”
Contractors have to do the punch list and prove it was completed. The architect and Gonzales then sign off on the list’s finalization.
During the meeting, School Board members showed their concerns and frustrations on the multiple delays of the gym’s completion.
“It has been one lie after another lie,” said School Board President Fred Butcher. “We have told Monterey we were going to be ready. Seems like the contractor does not have Monterey as a priority right now.”
Butcher went on to say he wanted to hold future payments from the contractor.
Gonzalez warned School Board members that contractually, they were supposed to pay the contractors.
“But, the contract goes both ways,” Butcher argued.
School Board member Derrick Carson, who is a lawyer, asked about penalizing the contractor for days worked after the contractual end date, which was July 2022.
School Board members gave Superintendent Toyua Bachus, the business office along with Gonzales, permission to research the contract “to see what legal ramifications we might have here.”
In a related action, School Board members approved naming the new Monterey gym to Jack Bairnsfather Gymnasium.
“I had an opportunity to work with Mr. Bairnsfather as a coach and as an administrator,” Butcher said. “He always tried to find the best in everybody.”
“He was a good man,” Raven added.
Meanwhile, School Board members formed a committee to look into financial feasibility to turf Ferriday and Vidalia High School football fields and add a track. Currently, both fields are deteriorating from years of use.
“Looking at the conditions of our fields now, I would like this board to consider taking actions to look into a possible turf field and track for Vidalia High School and Ferriday High School,” Carson said. “We have kicked this matter around.”
Gonzales, whose company has been over similar projects, gave School Board members an update.
According to Gonzales, designing turf fields usually takes two months, construction takes two to three months and a track “a little longer.”
He warned the group there would be annual upkeep, and the fields would last nine to 10 years.
Similar turf fields in Louisiana cost approximately $1.3 million.
After voting to form a committee, School Board member Warren Enterkin questioned the group’s “priorities.”
“Mr. Butcher and board, we are meeting in Vidalia’s board room because ours is incapacitated,” Enterkin said. “And, we are renting the building over there. And, we are talking about millions of dollars to do football fields. I think we have our priorities a little bit out of kilter here. I think we need a place to meet of our own rather than even thinking about spending millions of dollars on football fields. We got two football fields, one in Vidalia and one in Ferriday, but Monterey deserves the same money down there. So, we would need to put a baseball field down there with turf on it.”
According to Butcher, School Board members were just attempting to form a committee to get estimates for turf fields.
“At this point, the idea of this board is to appoint a committee because we have talked about this for the last year or so,” Butcher explained. “When everything is in, the money might not be there.”
Meanwhile, School Board members agreed to form another committee to look into paying athletic directors a stipend. At this time, no Athletic Director (AD) is compensated.
AD position has a “basic” job description, but according to School Board member Raymond Riley, “we would like to add (descriptions) in our parish.”