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From dirt to gridiron: Work continues on improvements to JCHS athletic facilities

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    Work is well underway at Greyhound stadium as crews prepare to put down a turf football field as part of more than $3 million in improvements to Jones County High School’s athletic facilities. At right, a concrete slab has been poured for visitor stands
    The natural grass field at Greyhound Stadium has been removed to make way from a new turf field. PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED
    The outline of the football field is all dirt as crews prepare for its upgrade.
    The track at JCHS is set to repaved with the nearby parking lot also set to be paved.
    It’s not only about football. The tennis courts are also set for a facelift.

While there remains some conjecture as to whether or not a full season will take place for Jones County athletics going into the fall, one thing is certain. A number of those student-athletes will be looking forward to competing on facilities that are being significantly upgraded.

The just over $3 million project approved earlier this year by the Jones County Board of Education consists of 12 construction projects, 10 being related to athletics. The actual amount for the athletics projects, $2,898,457, comes from the bond account from funds left over from school expansion projects, according to a previous story in The Jones County News.

The most noticeable upgrade? Greyhound Stadium’s playing surface. Gone will be the natural grass surface. In its place? The Field Turf Vertex Prime artificial turf.

It’s expected to be in place by the second week of August, and crews were hard at work last week converting Greyhound Stadium’s new surface. With the new playing surface, wear and tear that occurs not just during football but also for other sports such as soccer will be reduced. In the fall, for example, it is not uncommon for at least three games per week to take place on the field with varsity, JV and ninth grade games.

“During most week’s we’ll have games on the field multiple times,” said Jones County athletics director Barry Veal. “Between our teams using it as well as soccer, it’ll be used a lot not just for games, but for practices and other times that someone needs to be on it, even teams from the recreation department. It will truly be a community field.”

And should the Greyhounds continue the recent trend of deep runs into the postseason, worries of a run-down surface being a detrimental factor should be removed.

The improvements at the stadium don’t end there. The shed opposite of the Greyhound’s fieldhouse is being converted to provide a visiting team locker room and concession stand. In addition, new visiting stands are being put up consisting of 2,104 seats, something that figures to help curtail concerns by visiting teams when it comes to the GHSA’s minimum seating requirement for post-season games.

The new look goes beyond the stadium. The track will be repaved, a restroom built near it with the parking lot nearby also getting paved. In addition, the tennis courts will also be resurfaced.

Not only will bathrooms be replaced at the baseball and softball fields, but new lights will also be installed.

In short, while the improved facilities may be at the high school, they’ll be something that the entire community will have a part of.

That extends to the soon to be resurfaced track, as well with a new surface, described by Veal as ‘spongy and rubbery,’ that’s envisioned to be leveraged for both athletic competition and beyond.

“It’s important for us to have a first-class track. At the same time, it’s important to our community to have it where everyone can use and take advantage of it,” Veal said.

Toss in the tennis courts that’ll also be resurfaced soon, and the Greyhounds will have a good portion of their facility that’ll boast plenty of curb appeal.

“Like everything else, it’ll be something for everyone in Jones County to be proud of.”