Fresh, New Fieldhouse

Backhoes and bricklayers have settled into a background buzz behind the school. They have been working on a building that will store athletic equipment, add a new training facility and offer the football team a place to dress out and gather during halftime. However, many questions regarding the new million dollar fieldhouse have created a buzz inside the school as well.

In the fall of 2014, tax payers voted on a bond which gave money to Johnston County Schools for various projects on their priority lists. Johnston Community College was given money that they were not ready to spend. Since bond money cannot sit around because interest must be paid on it, JCC donated their share of the money for the fieldhouse project.

“To get [a bond] to pass, you have to spread the wealth,” Superintendent Dr. Ed Croom said.

Other projects paid for in this bond sale include the construction of North Johnston Middle School for $17 million, extra classrooms on River Dell Elementary for $4 million, additional classrooms and an additional gym for Princeton High for $4 million and other various projects.

“A fieldhouse is important, especially in the West Johnston community. But it does not supercede the importance of building an elementary school somewhere if they’re overcrowded,” Croom said.

Residents in the area have been requesting a fieldhouse ever since the school was built, therefore, a fieldhouse has been on the school board’s priority list for years.

“When [the school board] hear it over and over and over, they say, ‘Look, this has been a need for over 10 years. We need to get something done.’ So, it makes the priority list,” Croom said.

The expected completion time of the fieldhouse is three to four months, however, when the construction is completed, the building will need to be inspected.

“The kids that are seniors now are a little bummed because they’re not going to get to enjoy it. [We might] be able to get into it a little this year, but if we don’t, we’ll be happy to get into it in the springtime,” varsity football coach Tony Settimi said.

When the construction takes place is not up to Croom or the board of education. Whenever a bond is sold, construction must begin immediately for the most cost effective projects.

“It’s really based on the bond calendar and when they sell the bonds and when the money is available to build. So, it’s not like ‘Oh, Croom wants West Johnston to have a fieldhouse, so we’re going to write a check to get it done,” said Croom.

The construction of the fieldhouse did not plan on cancelling outdoor graduation for the class of 2015. The start date of all bond projects depend on the bond calendar.

“I can’t tell my chief operations guy ‘Look, leave it sitting over there for two or three months because graduation is coming,’” Croom said.

Although there are other needs at our school and in schools around the county, the construction of the fieldhouse meets a long awaited need with many reasons backing up the purpose of the building.

“We don’t do things just because. There are always reasons and we try to do things right,” Croom said.