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PNG’s multi-purpose facility on hold

GROVES — Plans for a multi-purpose facility for Port Neches-Groves High School athletics to use during inclement weather is on the back burner with no immediate plans to revisit the issue.
Cost coupled with the fact the district has other more looming issues such as overcrowding at the elementary level, brought the project to a halt.
Trustees with Port Neches-Groves Independent School District voted to reject bids for the project during a recent school board meeting held in the boardroom in Groves. Bids ranged from the lowest at about $773,750 to the highest at $885,000.
But with $370,000 from two individual donors and the Athletic Booster Club added to the district pitching in $150,000 is no where near the range of the bids.
What began as a grand idea — a facility that could be used for athletics and other school groups to use for practice during inclement weather, ended up as a bare metal building without turf or electricity. And while the idea of at least a 50-yard sized facility seemed ideal, in reality the funds would only have paid for a 35-yard sized facility that’s less than the normal width of a football field.
Trustee Darren McCutcheon, as well as other trustees, was disappointed.
“The idea of it was great,” McCutcheon said. “What we got is not what it started out as.”
Rusty Brittain, fellow trustee, said it would be a bigger embarrassment to construct the smaller, no frills facility.
Board President Jim Walters explained that the board originally thought half a million dollars would be enough to construct the building and the district was willing to make up the difference between the donations and the price.
“We are having to reprioritize and look at the needs of the teachers and the students. An AC in a classroom or an indoor practice facility?” Walters said. “It’s a matter of needs and as nice as it would be to have a place for athletics or band to practice indoors during inclement weather, there are other needs.”
Besides the issue of other needs in the district the board was also shocked at the price.
“We thought we’d pay $150,000 not $350,000,” he said.
Dohn LaBiche with LaBiche Architectural Group was tagged for the architectural/engineering services and in February broke the news to the board that a 35-yard facility would cost about $536,975 while a 50-yard facility would be priced somewhere between $1.2 million to $1.6 million.
Talks about constructing a building for athletics to use in inclement weather has been ongoing for several years with Athletic Director Coach Brandon Faircloth bringing the issue to approximately 1,300 PNG football season ticket holders. Many fans expressed excitement at the thought of what, at that time, was hoped to be a 50-yard field facility.
“It’s almost disrespectful to the people who made the donations to spend money on something they were told would be very nice with a turf field, to turn it into  a barn. That’s not right,” Walters said.
The funds were donated for a specific use, Walters said, and Superintendent Rodney Cavness has been in contact with the two major donors regarding the issue.
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