COTTONWOOD – Seven months after Hurricane Michael hurled bleachers and roofing to and fro, repairs to Cottonwood High School athletic facilities will begin this week.
Work will begin on installing a new set of visitors stands at Cottonwood’s football field, a project that is expected to be finished before students begin a new school year in August, said David Sewell, Houston County Schools superintendent. Crews with K.C. Construction and Roofing of Dothan will also tackle major repairs at the Bears’ gymnasium, which suffered heavy roof damage – and consequently, significant flooring damage.
The football stadium repairs will cost about $59,000, while the gymnasium project cost a little less than $500,000. Insurance money will cover the vast majority of the costs, Sewell said.
Work is just beginning on the projects despite having no hiccups in the process to initiate repairs. Sewell said since both projects topped $50,000, the system had to hire architects to design each of them, then submit those plans to the Alabama State Department of Education for final approval.
After receiving the approval, the board had to let bids for each initiative.
Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 storm that packed hurricane-force winds as it crossed Houston County on Oct. 10, 2018, tossed the visitors stands onto the middle of Cottonwood’s football field. Sewell said the new bleachers will be about the same size as the original set, though it will have fewer standard seats to allow some handicap-accessible seating.
The new bleachers will also be moved back a few feet to permit more sideline space for visiting football teams, the superintendent added.
The damage forced the Bears’ football team to play its final two home games away from its home stadium. The damage to the gymnasium required the Bears basketball squads to play their entire 2018-19 campaigns at Rehobeth Middle and Ashford Elementary schools, Sewell said.
The gym repairs will begin with roof work. Crews will then install a new hardwood floor, a project that will likely take until September to finish.
Sewell said the school system has opted to spend some extra money and install new bleachers in the gymnasium.