WESTMINSTER - The Bellows Falls Union High School Board of Directors voted unanimously Thursday to let the games begin.
Hadley Field was closed to all use last week after it was learned that Techline, Inc. - the Texas-based company that set up the field's stadium lights - could not guarantee the safety of the installation it made more than a year ago.
Geotech Environmental Engineering Inc., out of Winooski, was hired to take soil sample borings from the field on Monday and Tuesday to make sure the installation methods used were appropriate for its conditions and soil type. Test results released Wednesday indicated the installed poles hoisting the stadium lights pose no threat of collapsing and the BFUHS Board used a special meeting at the high school's library to re-open the field for use, effective immediately.
Windham Northeast Supervisory Union Superintendent Chris Kibbe assured everyone the $4,000 for the testing was funded by Techline and will not cost a penny to the taxpayers.
He told the school directors the field was never considered unsafe but was closed merely as a precaution until test results proved their was no danger. He said the pole are sufficient and though the soil type was not the same as originally assumed, the report states the installation is safe.
According to Kibbe, the WNESU received stamped and certified engineer reports Wednesday. He said the reports are needed to re-submit a petition for a permit from the Westminster Zoning Board of Adjustment.
School officials were forced to start reorganizing practice and game schedules but will no longer have to. Kibbe said Wednesday that Athletic Director Ian Fraunfelder still had to wait for the board of directors to officially reopen the field before rescheduling any games for Hadley.
Hadley Field consists of a football field (with a high school track around its perimeter), tennis courts and a baseball field. Fraunfelder said only the BFUHS football team uses the field for games during the fall, but the boys and girls soccer teams and girls field hockey team of Bellows Falls Middle School typically practice there when their game field is taken due to a match. The Pee Wee Football organization also uses the field.
The BFUHS football team isn't slated for a home game until Saturday, Sept. 7, when the Terriers are scheduled to host the Milton Yellowjackets at 7 p.m.
The lights, the first in school history, have been the source of a somewhat lengthy saga. They were made possible by the financial holdings of the late Alvin Southwick, but Techline did not make sure all necessary permits were in order before the project began and some people have complained about the glare the lights produce.
Southwick was a longtime Westminster resident and sports fan. He died in August 2011.
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