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Southmoreland hires firm to aid stadium repairs

| Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Southmoreland School District now has an architectural and engineering firm in the process to replace the surface and subsurface (where necessary) at Russ Grimm Field.

School directors voted Thursday to secure the services of Eckles Architecture and Engineering of New Castle.

“That motion got me and engineer and an architect, someone to represent our interests as we move forward in the project,” explained Superintendent John Molnar after the meeting. “They will help to draw up the specs for the replacement of the stadium, the drainage, possibly look at more flood control.”

The field — which is home base to many Southmoreland fall sports as well as other activities — suffered extensive damage Aug. 23 as heavy rains invaded western Pennsylvania. Five days later flooding occurred again at the stadium.

How much of the fee will have to be picked up by the district is still to be determined, based on what is done at the stadium. At the Sept. 5 meeting, it was stated the insurance company would pick up the tab for a new surface and subsurface minus a $25,000 deductible.

“Our insurance will cover design and engineering work that has to do with repairs to the damage that was done,” Molnar said. “We're obviously looking at prevention, which insurance won't cover..... If we determine there's an additional safety measure we would want to take that would be on an hourly rate.”

School directors also approved the annual service delivery agreement with St. Vincent College Prevention Projects to provide students with alcohol, tobacco and drug prevention education. The cost to the district is in the neighborhood of $26,000.

“It's a curriculum that has to do with alcohol, tobacco and drug awareness,” Molnar said. “There's a teacher who's trained in prevention. She visits classrooms on a regular basis.”

Seven of the eight school directors in attendance approved the motion. Ken Alt cast the lone negative tally and Catherine Fike was not in attendance.

Alt was concerned that the district was not getting its money's worth from the program.

“It still doesn't show me where we benefit,” Alt said. “I think we could accomplish this on our own. We should explore other avenues to see if this is the most efficient program to get us results.”

School Director James Beistel said any success the program may have makes it worthwhile.

“If it saves one child, it's worth it,” Beistel said.

Paul Paterra is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-887-6101 or