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Though Abbeville High has had its current campus on Graball Cutoff Road off Highway 431 since 2006, some Yellow Jackets athletic teams have still had to travel to the old downtown campus or to the recreational facilities for practices.

Come next spring, those post-school trips for practices will be a thing of the past.

The Henry County School Board approved of plans on May 14 for new on-campus baseball and softball fields plus a track and field facility. The track facility will have a grass infield to be utilized for football practice. All three facilities could be ready next spring.

While it will have an on-campus practice field, the Yellow Jacket football team will continue to play its home games at the stadium off College Street. The stadium was part of the old high school located off College and Trawick before a November 2002 tornado hit the campus, destroying several school buildings, including the gym.

Superintendent Chris Padget confirmed the board’s approval for the new on-campus athletic facilities in a recent interview with the Dothan Eagle.

A recent state bond issue by Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey will cover most of the $3.7 million project and leftover money from a state bond toward Headland’s new gymnasium will cover the rest, said Padget.

Anderson Construction of Fort Gaines, Ga., was hired by the board during the May 14 meeting to do the project.

“It means everything,” Padget said. “We control time and what we can do. Our baseball and softball teams have to travel to the recreation fields for practices and games (around the rec league schedules) and can now stay on-campus.

“Our football players have to travel over to the old high school to practice every day, but now with that track facility having a grass field inside the track they can practice at the school instead of having to travel to the old school, which is a big liability.”

The current baseball/softball fields are located on Ozark Road off Highway 27, 1.3 miles away from the high school, while the football stadium, which is currently used for practices as well as games, is 2.5 miles from the current campus.

The new baseball and softball fields will be located behind the school on the east side of the campus, said Padget. It will have a concession stand/press box and restroom building in between the two fields.

The track and field facility will be to the south side of the school, behind the current bus shop and maintenance buildings.

Padget said he expects ground breaking for the facilities to be held within the next two months. Anderson Construction has said the project would take around five to xix months, said Padget. Most of the work involves flattening the land as the terrain is not very even in the back, said the superintendent.

Padget was hopeful the project would be finished in time for the three spring sports — baseball, softball and track/field — to hold practices and games next spring.

After completion of the track and field facility, Abbeville will become the third high school in the Wiregrass with easy access to a modernized track. The others are located in Troy and Enterprise.

Padget said the track could also be used by the community in the non-school hours for walking and exercises.

David is sports writer for Dothan Eagle.

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