Brittney Burns – Staff Writer

With the help of a private donor and funds from the Macon County Board of Commissioners, Franklin High School will have a new track by the end of the month.

Macon County Commissioners Ronnie Beale and Gary Shields serve as liaisons to the school board and made the motion for the county to provide the additional funds needed to resurface the track at Franklin High School, which has become a safety hazard.

“The latest bid to do this is $58,712.50,” said Beale. “In our opinion it’s needed because of two reasons, number one is the liability issues that are created at this track, because the patches are gone. Number two, we want to bring back track meets to our local high school.”

Last fall, when the state of the track was first discussed in the district, a private donor stepped up and committed to donating $27,500 to Franklin High School to help offset the cost of the project. The school system was also able to find funds in the budget to ensure the project’s completion.

“Out of the $58,712, we have a donor that is willing to donate $27,500 of that,” said Beale. “Out of the remaining balance, Mr. Baldwin said that they could come up with half of that money, leaving the obligation of the county at $15,606.25.”

The county’s approval of funds toward the project was crucial, as the bid on the track had already been awarded and the company that will complete the improvements was already scheduled to begin work on May 23.

The condition of the track at Franklin High School has been discussed for years, but in previous budget cycles, repairs have been left off of the capital outlay budget due to more serious concerns with drainage issues surrounding the Franklin High School football field and adjacent parking lot. In previous years, the track resurfacing was left out of consideration because no company would guarantee their work or provide the district with a warranty on a resurfacing due to the underlying drainage issues. Originally school board members decided not to resurface the track until the drainage issues were addressed. But with estimates to fix the drainage problems coming in at more than a million dollars, that project has been put on hold. Although the track resurfacing project will not come with a warranty, Beale said the improvements are an investment not just in Macon County, but for the community at large.

“This is something that we think is a good investment. It’s used by a lot of citizens, especially those who run. We’ve already had a couple of incidents of people who have fallen,” said Beale. “With that, I would like to make a motion to take out of this budget year’s contingency, $15,606.25 for our portion of resurfacing the track at Franklin High School.”

The motion passed unanimously.