Light Poles Pose Safety Concern At RCHS Football Field

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Rockingham County High School's football field is closed off because of the fear that the light poles could fall and hurt someone. SKA Consulting Engineers reviewed the four light poles near the field on Friday and deemed the poles "a considerable safety concern that requires immediate action." The engineers said the wooden poles were cracking and recommended no one be allowed within 120 feet of them.

The recommendation came just a few hours before kick-off at Rockingham's home football game against Reidsville. The district postponed the game until Saturday at 7 p.m. at McMichael High School's field. Superintendent Rodney Shotwell said the engineers made it very clear that the poles were dangerous.

"I just couldn't take any chance of anybody getting hurt at that ball game," he said. "You know, we're going to padlock the place down until we come up with a solution."

The district plans to meet with the contractor for the field's lights, Musco Lighting, on Tuesday to discuss some permanent and temporary lighting options. Shotwell said the new lights the district is looking at should last 25 years. The current poles have been there since the high school opened more than 30 years ago.

He said to replace the four poles it will cost the district $275,000, which is more than a third of the capital improvement budget for the year. The district is also looking to replace light poles at different fields at multiple schools, but those poles don't pose a severe safety threat like the ones at RCHS. He said he hopes the district is able to lease-to-own the lights to cut down on the cost it's paying per year.

"They've had their livelihood, I mean, they're the original poles. I think the stadium opened in 1980," Shotwell said.

Shotwell said he isn't sure when knew permanent lighting will be in place, but said he hopes temporary lighting is in place for the upcoming home football game on Friday. If not, the district will look again for another location and time.

RCHS will still get to keep the money from the ticket sales for its athletic department, even though the game was played at McMichael. One local organization planned to raise support and awareness at Friday's game, but because of the switch up had to make some last minute changes.

"We had all the JV cheerleaders, you know, who were going to come and help out and then with the holiday weekend everybody kind of had other plans for tonight," Jennifer Joyce, executive director for the Barry Joyce Cancer Fund, said. "We kind of had to regroup today and got some of the volunteers from the center and their friends and families and so they stepped up."

The group went from about 15 volunteers on Friday to five volunteers on Saturday. They sold raffle tickets to fans, where the lucky winner one half of the money raised. The rest of the money went to the nonprofit.

The Barry Joyce Cancer Fund raises support for local cancer patients and their families. It offers financial support to families who apply for assistance. It also provides emotional and educational support through group meetings, its library, yoga classes and massage therapy.


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