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Tallassee's Trent Morris tosses a pass during the 7-on-7 scrimmages at Wetumpka last summer. Wetumpka was the first county school to add artificial turf at its stadium.

Turfing project a go

By Michael Butler

The Tallassee City School System is moving forward on a plan to add prescription turf to fields at J.E. "Hot" O'Brien Stadium.

The Elmore County Commission and Elmore County Econmic Development Authority are working with Tallassee and other cities on quality of life improvement projects and will provide $10 million in funding for such projects. The dollars raised have come from lodging taxes.

Approximately $2.5 million will go toward returfing the playing surface at O'Brien Stadium used for football and soccer. That estimate would include adding artificial grass to the practice field adjacent to the stadium.

"The board executed the agreement with the county commission," said Tallassee City Schools Superintendent Dr. Brock Nolin. "The idea is to start on the practice field first."

Nolin added that the visitors locker room that also serves as an additional concession stand would be removed.

"That building has just about reached the end of its service life. It's a constant maintenance issue. I'm looking at demoing that and recollating that area, so it can be taken to the turf area of the practice field."

Phase one is turfing not only in Tallassee but also at Elmore County and Holtville High Schools. Phase two of the Tallassee project is for a new recreation center next to the stadium.

"They have to the drawings and design plans," said Nolin. "They're also executing the bonds to secure the money for these projects. That doesn't happen overnight."

Nolin said that the practice field would be turfed first and could start as soon as this summer. Work on the playing field would likely begin at season's end. If that carries over into soccer season the following spring, the team would have to find another venue for its home matches.

"They're going to play somewhere," Nolin noted. "Where, I don't know."

THS soccer coach Matthew Tarpley talked about the potential conflict.

"We've got to work out when that installation is going to take place, so that it causes minimal headaches for all of our teams," Tarpley said. "In the long run I think it's great. You don't have to cut grass. You don't have to line the fields. You don't have to water it. You don't have to spend money on fertilizer. It certainly helps on a rainy day. I don't have to worry about field conditions or standing water. I'm completely excited."