Sinkhole threatens Peach County stadium concession stand

jmink@macon.comJuly 9, 2013 

FORT VALLEY -- Officials are rushing to fix a sinkhole at Peach County High School’s football stadium, which threatens to swallow the concession stand.

District officials informed the Peach County Board of Education of the problem Tuesday, recommending the district spend about $8,500 to fix the problem in the short-term. The board voted to allow the superintendent to dip into the district’s reserve budget if necessary.

“If you do nothing, you’re going to lose the concession stand,” said Ben Maddox, director of operations. “It’s going to fall into a hole.”

The problem stems from an underground drain box near the concession stand, which catches water from four different pipes. Additionally, fertilizer and other runoff is corroding the pipes, causing them to rust and fold, Maddox said.

The district plans to fix the problem by lining 40 feet of existing pipe with cement, basically creating a pipe within a pipe and repairing the problem. Workers will then examine the pipes, and officials will choose a long-term fix.

Board Chairman Jamie Johnson asked whether the immediate fix will need to be redone when workers begin long-term repairs, but Maddox said the $8,500 repair will be permanent.

Maddox expects workers to finish that short-term repair within the next two weeks, he said.

Handbook changes

The student and parent handbook for Peach County schools will look different after the board voted to make some changes.

The changes are simply updates to reflect new policies, which already are being enforced, said Gail Swaine, district director of grants and administrative services.

Some of the biggest changes include new procedures for checking students out of school and for the placement of students who have served sentences with the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.

For safety reasons, the new handbook calls for anyone who is checking a child out of school to provide a valid identification, and that identification will now be matched with Infinite Campus, a student information system, Swaine said.

Johnson applauded the change as a boost to student safety.

“Nowadays, you can’t be too cautious,” he said.

Additionally, students who return to the school system from the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice no longer automatically go to the alternative school. Now, a district committee decides where the student should go, Swaine said.

Before, students would automatically be sent to the alternative school for a certain amount of time after completing their sentences. Now, students will have the opportunity to immediately return to their home schools, if they do not have pending discipline issues with the school system. If principals are concerned about certain students returning to school, they can bring their issues to the committee, Swaine said.

It’s a good policy, Superintendent Joe Ann Denning said, especially because many of those students are punished for misbehaviors that occurred outside of school.

“We want those kids to go into the class and get a fresh start and move ahead,” Denning said., “especially if they had a good record with the school system.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 256-9751.

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