VERONA — The lights are out at the Vernon-Verona-Sherrill school district’s seven-month-old Sheveron Stadium — out of the ground, in fact.
Four poles containing sets of lights have been brought down due to structural integrity issues with two of the poles and a need for additional testing of the other two, VVS Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations Mark Wixson said Wednesday.
Sheveron Stadium opened last October as a newly built artificial turf multi-sport facility including football, lacrosse, soccer and field hockey among them. It is adjacent to the longtime Sheveron Field stadium site that continues as a track-and-field facility among its uses, and includes a grass field.
Because of the issues, Sheveron Stadium was closed April 10. The track surrounding the Sheveron Field site was cleared for school and community usage on May 6 while the adjacent Sheveron Stadium turf field was released for usage on May 10, said Wixson. The poles are still being investigated and tested, he said.
“This was an unfortunate and unforeseen circumstance. We share the disappointment of our student athletes and their friends and families,” Wixson commented. “We have and will continue to work diligently with our project team and athletic director toward a resolution that provides continued opportunities for safe and enjoyable use of the facility. The patience and understanding of the school community is greatly appreciated.”
When the root cause of the problems is determined along with corrective measures needed, said Wixson, “the costs associated with these measures have and will continue to be borne by the contractors involved and their insurance companies.”
Wixson outlined how the issues were found, and what has since occurred.
On April 10 the VVS district’s director of facilities and the electrical contractor for the stadium project saw that some anchor bolts at the base of a light pole closest to a parking lot “had lifted up from the concrete base,” said Wixson. This meant “the integrity of the light pole had been compromised.”
Sheveron Stadium was immediately closed, and the pole was brought safely to the ground the next day, Wixson said.
“No issues with any of the poles had been observed the previous day, and no events had been held between that time and when the anchor bolt issue was observed the following morning,” Wixson noted. “At no time were staff, students or community at risk.”
Inspections of the remaining upright poles then continued, with tests being conducted and data analyzed, said Wixson. Subsequent testing determined that the integrity of a second track-side pole was suspected of being compromised, and it was brought down on May 3, he commented. Further tests confirmed it had been compromised, and testing continues on both poles.
“With both track-side poles brought safely down and secured, it was determined that the district could release the track, which surrounds the Sheveron grass field, for school and community use beginning May 4,” Wixson said. “Subsequently, a track meet was able to be held on May 6, with other track events held since that time.”
Meanwhile, to perform additional testing on the two remaining Sheveron Stadium turf-side poles, they also needed to be brought to the ground which was done on May 10, Wixson added.
“With all poles brought safely down, the turf field was released for school and community use, including lacrosse practices and remaining competition,” Wixson observed.
Testing of the two track-side poles to determine why they failed, plus testing of the two turf-side poles to determine whether they have been similarly compromised, is a “complex process” that takes time, said Wixson.
“As the current situation poses no threat to staff, students, and community, the parties involved will take the time necessary to properly investigate, perform testing and analysis of the results, and determine the exact root cause of any failure,” Wixson remarked.
The light poles feature a complex integrated system involving the work of both the site contract and electrical contractor, explained Wixson. Those parties are both part of testing, analysis, and conclusions, as are VVS district representatives plus an insurance agent and third-party engineers, he said.