Apr 12, 2011 8:47 PM by Andy Koen

Sinking stadium closed in Florence

Husky Stadium at Florence High School is now closed. Engineers say that the facility is no longer safe to use.  The stands themselves along with a barrier wall that holds the stadium back off the track is beginning to slip forward.

"They really don't want to put anyone in danger in our community by using the stands at this time," said superintendent Cynthia Scriven.

But the stadium isn't the only problem. There are cracks in the walls and the floors of the cafeteria and gymnasium. In fact, the cafeteria is now covered in carpet to keep students from tripping on the cracks.

That said, the engineering firm hired by the district to evaluate the safety of the buildings says that the school is safe. The $18 million facility is not quite 5 years old, but estimates of the damage already top $4 million. Scriven says the district is hoping to be able to come to a settlement with the contractors and builder to be reimbursed for the loss.

Making matters worse, the district recently had to repay more than a million dollars to the Holcim Cement Plant over an abatement issue. As a consequence property taxes in the Fremont Re-2 School District will have to go up by 25 percent next year.

School board secretary Bob Wood says when he and the other board members voted to award the contract in 2005, they had no way of knowing that there would be this many problems.

"We chose people that have good reputations and that have worked well in other school districts, produced quality products and things happened."

Wood says the district has tried to do the best it can with the funds that are available. But state budget cuts, the Holcim abatement and the building damages have nearly depleted their finances.

"There isn't money to fix all those things," Wood said.

Principal Steve Wolfe says that graduation will most likely be held in the school gymnasium. Physical education classes, soccer games and track and field practice will still take place on the field for the remainder of the school year.

Scriven says the district hopes to have the stadium repaired over the summer to be ready for football games in the fall.

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