Gym bids returned, expected to be considered Monday

Attendees of a recent volleyball game use fans to keep cool in the Charles H. Berry Gymnasium in Huntsville.

Huntsville school officials are still hopeful that volleyball home games won’t have to be canceled due to the installation of air conditioning in the Charles H. Berry Gymnasium.

Huntsville Athletic Director Tom McCollough said last week that bids had been submitted to the district’s construction firm, C.R. Crawford, of Fayetteville. The firm will review the bids and give its recommendation to the Huntsville School Board. McCollough said he expects the bid to be recommended to the board at its next meeting, scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9.

“They’re going to look through them and recommend the best one to us, and then they’ll present that to us and the board will [consider] the bid,” McCollough said.

If the bid is approved, construction could start “shortly thereafter,” McCollough said.

Voters in the Huntsville School District approved a 3.9-mill increase in May to fund air conditioning in the two main gyms in Huntsville and St. Paul; an activity center in Huntsville; and two Career and Technical Education facilities, one in Huntsville and the other in St. Paul.

The board voted last month to purchase a piece of land adjoining the St. Paul campus – which currently has a structure that will have to be torn down – for consideration in the future CTE facility. While the district had initially planned to construct the facility behind the St. Paul gym, Superintendent Dennis Fisher told the board at its meeting that a septic system behind the gym “is really in good function,” and if the district were to construct in that area, the septic system may have to be reconstructed, adding additional expenses.

Earlier this summer, district officials said home volleyball games this fall could be moved to the road due to the installation of the air conditioning. McCollough said last week that he’s hopeful construction can be completed during already-scheduled road stints.

“I’m thinking that it won’t affect [the volleyball schedule] because there are a couple of periods where we won’t be playing at home for like a week at a time,” McCollough said. “I’m hoping that they can get inside and do that part during that time, because they said it shouldn’t take too long inside.”

Indoor work would include duct work, McCollough said. He said peewee games may also have to be rescheduled.

“If we need to adjust a couple peewee game dates, we can do that,” he said. “But as long as they can get that ducting stuff done inside fairly quickly and within that time frame, it shouldn’t affect anything, we’re thinking at this point.”

The volleyball season kicked off last Tuesday with the program’s annual maroon and white scrimmage games, followed by benefit games on Thursday against Alma and Springdale. The team hosted Siloam Springs on Monday.

McCollough said that students will again be admitted into sporting events for free this season. High school students will be required to present their identification badges issued to them at the start of the school year, and middle school students will be issued passes. Lower grades will “go on the honor system,’ he said.

The Huntsville Eagles varsity football season kicks off Friday at Gentry.

The Huntsville School Board will meet next at 7 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9, at the district administration office.

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