School board votes to rebuild Putnam

Unanimous decision has Tomcats playing on new field for 2014 season

Mike James, The Independent

ASHLAND — It’s official: The Ashland Tomcats and their fans will have a new stadium for the 2014 football season.

The Ashland Board of Education on Wednesday agreed unanimously to rebuild Putnam Stadium and hired two construction companies to do the work for $1.46 million.

The vote was one for Ashland’s history books, according to Superintendent Steve Gilmore.

“This vote was a historic one because the stadium is a community facility,” Gilmore said. “People think of Putnam Stadium as theirs as citizens, not because they have kids in school but because it belongs to the community.”

The project includes new concrete foundations — the existing ones will be demolished — bleachers with fold-down VIP chairs, press box, concrete walkways behind the bleachers, fencing and lighting, plus preliminary plumbing for future restrooms.

It does not include locker rooms, for which the board expects to pursue financing later.

The final price tag was about $150,000 less than the bid the board rejected in March. That was because the district offered more bid options rather than insisting on bids for the complete job, Gilmore said.

Toadvine Enterprises of Louisville will put in the bleachers for $885,000 and Trace Creek Construction of Vanceburg will do the foundations and other work for $580,000.

Gilmore expects demolition of the existing foundations in January and construction to start shortly thereafter, with bleacher installation commencing as early as spring 2014.

It is a virtual certainty, and the project’s highest priority, that the stadium be ready for the first home game of the 2014 season, he said.

The board’s go-ahead also is expected to jump-start fundraising for the Putnam Stadium Renovation Committee, which has been raising money for the project. “When the wrecking ball hits, I think that gives us a lot of momentum,” committee chairman Greg Jackson said.

Besides being a community icon, Putnam Stadium is vital to many of Ashland’s sports teams at the high school and middle school levels. Student athletes depend on it and gate receipts to pump money into those programs, Gilmore said.

This story was originally post by The Independent,