Neosho Schools approve softball field renovations

Seth Kinker
Neosho Daily News

On Apr. 26 the Neosho board of education held a special meeting that discussed a proposal for renovations to the high school softball field that came to $450,178.

Superintendent Dr. Jim Cummins said that after the baseball field dedication ceremony earlier this month, he was approached by Jim O’Dell, of O’Dell Trucking LLC in Neosho, about raising funds for softball field renovations similar to the recent renovations made to the baseball field.

“I do it for the girls, but it’s not just the softball program,” said O’Dell over the phone. “O’Dell Trucking, we donated for the turfing of the football field. We’re with the baseball and softball field (renovations). We’re for the kids in the community and this is a way we can give back for the kids, plus I have three granddaughters that play softball.”

Cummins added that Richie Fretwell, Assistant Superintendent and Operations Director for the district, had said the project would cost about $450,178 after bids received from Mid America Sports Construction (MASC)

Turf installation, dirt work and drainage were the costliest items at $379, 969. Other items included in the renovation plans were a new, six-foot-tall black vinyl fencing ($27, 209), a concrete pad ($28,000), a backstop net ($5,000) and a batting cage bull pen area ($10,000).

Bid alternates included furnishing two double barrel bull pens ($29,976) and furnishing and installing batting cage ($52, 890) that totaled $82, 866.

A rendering of the overhead view of the renovated softball field below the recently renovated baseball field.

The agenda item description also noted that the district believes that $82,000 of bid alternates can be done in house for about $10,000 and O’Dell’s goal is to have the project completed by the fall of 2021.

“It is more affordable due to labor and supplies,” said Meagan Spangler, District Director of Community and Team Relations, in an email on the difference in bid alternate costs if done in house. “Some of the supplies like pipe and turf we already have left over from previous projects. The other reason is because we will do the labor in-house, which saves a significant amount due to prevailing wage.”

After getting the price back, the district had encouraged O’Dell to see what funds he could raise.

A presentation by O’Dell and Jenny Spiva on Apr. 22 to Fretwell, Cummins and Spangler indicated that enough pledges for the project had equaled $400,000 with another $100,000 likely after getting the word out to the district.

O’Dell and Spiva are working together on fundraising for the renovations and O’Dell said that Spiva, recently chosen to fill a vacated board of education seat, is a lifetime friend.

The agenda item noted that once a pamphlet on the project is created, more advertisers will be sought and more discussion about pledges will be discussed.

Board member Dan Haskins commented first during board input, saying that it was exciting and referenced last year’s annual retreat when talking about future goals and projects.

“When we start digging dirt and doing these projects, is everyone going to get excited about what’s happening?” said Haskins “This is proof in the pudding right here. I’m excited for this and I think it’s a great opportunity for us.”

Cummins added that he asked Board President Jonathan Russell to add the item to the special meeting because O’Dell wanted to begin the work right away to have the chance to have it done by fall.

“If we’re going to do that, Mr. Fretwell is going to have to give the thumbs up to MASC pretty quick,” said Cummins.

Haskins asked about the schedule for the MASC and if they would be able to do it by this fall.

“When we started this conversation, they said if we could start by May 4, they thought they could get us in there by August,” said Fretwell. “I think we do have a little back up plan, worst case scenario if it’s not ready. We convert the baseball field like we were going to do anyway for a little while, that’s what I sold O’Dell on. I think our first game is Aug. 28, we can practice on the baseball field until it’s ready. We do have some leeway.” 

Wood then asked about drainage issues at the current field and the answer given was that the renovations would address those issues similar to how they had been addressed with the baseball field renovations. 

Haskins asked if dealing with the drainage issues would affect the soccer field and Fretwell responded that the soccer field is the highest elevated out of the three fields at the athletic complex.

The approval was unanimously approved.

“I think that because if you’re local, we have to give back to our community and stay local to help our community grow,” said O’Dell on what it meant to get the call about the approval for the renovations. “This is going to be an awesome opportunity for the whole district to have a turf field for football, baseball and softball.