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Monday, May 2, 2016

Big improvements in place at Greyhounds Stadium

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Salem High School's football field has a lot of growing to do before the first home game in September. During the month of June, the field was regraded, a new watering system installed and bermuda grass designed for sports field sown. Regular watering is underway and the new playing surface is to be ready for opening kickoff. Photo by Steven Looney
When it is time for a Salem High School football game, the team and a loud home crowd are fired up and ready to go.

But the playing surface at Greyhounds Football Stadium has not always been at its best.

That will change in September, when a new and much improved playing surface will be in place.

"In the early 1990s, there was some grading done and a watering system was put in, but that was almost 20 years ago," said Superintendent Ken Rich, attesting to the need for June's major make-over at the field.

The project began with heavy equipment operator Joe York scraping off the old grass surface and regrading the field so that it is uniformly smooth and shaped to drain properly.

"I've seen kids running in an open field with nothing to stop them, suddenly trip and fall," said Principal and former football coach, Wayne Guiltner. "The field was unlevel and that presented challenges for players and coaches."

According to Guiltner, the regrading work will make a world of difference.

"Joe York did a great job," said Guiltner. "The field is now as smooth as any field you'll find, especially at a double A stadium."

The next step was installation of a new watering system.

"The old water system had only ten heads and had to be turned on and off," said Rich. "The new system has 72 heads for full coverage of the field and it is automated."

The Double Springs Grass Farm in Searcy put the finishing touches on the field.

"It sprigged it with T-10 Bermuda athletic grass," said Rich. "Before the work, the field had four different types of Bermuda, mostly common Bermuda. The new grass is a low growing, thicker grass developed for athletic fields."

With the improvements complete, the watering system is busy sprinkling what appears to be a field of dirt.

The big question is, will there be a carpet of grass ready to play on by September's first home game?

According to Rich, the grass farm wanted the work done in time for a ten week growing period. That goal was met and he is confident the new surface will be ready.

"Double Springs has sprigged more than 30 other high school football fields and has a great track record. I am looking forward to a great playing surface," said Rich.

The superintendent said the football stadium has been on his list of needed campus improvements for some time.

The cost is being covered by local school revenue.

"Because of problems with the way the field was graded, the surface between the hash marks would wear out after three or four games," said Guiltner. "This new surface is going to be a lot nicer. The kids will enjoying playing on it."

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