Ground broken for ECHS fieldhouse renovation
By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
On Friday, July 28, Escambia County education officials took the first step in providing a new athletic fieldhouse for Escambia County High School (ECHS), a sweeping renovation that will turn a 50-year-old building into a modern facility.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Atmore Mayor Pro Tem Shawn Lassiter, a 1989 graduate of ECHS who showered, dressed and trained in the outdated structure when he played football there. “We’ve had this fieldhouse forever; it’s the same one I used. This (the renovation) is a good thing.”
Chris Walker, economic planner for the City of Atmore and a former Blue Devils football player who graduated in 1981, said the same fieldhouse was in use then.
“I don’t know how long it’s been here, but it was here in the 1970s, I know,” said Walker.
More than 50 people — including five board of education members — sought the shelter of a tent or stood in the blistering heat for the groundbreaking.
Atmore Mayor Jim Staff and three city council members — Lassiter, Jerome Webster and Webb Nall — were among the crowd, as were County Commissioner Karean Reynolds and representatives of PH&J Architects, which designed the new facility, and Triptek Construction, which will do the actual renovation.
Superintendent of Education Michele McClung spoke briefly before turning over the microphone to Deputy Director of Operations Shaun Goolsby.
“Today we gather with immense pride and excitement as we celebrate this momentous occasion in the history of Escambia County High School,” said Goolsby. “This groundbreaking marks a significant step forward in providing our student athletes with the facilities they deserve. Construction of this fieldhouse signifies our unwavering dedication to excellence in athletics, education and character development.”
He said the renovated facility would play a large part in shaping the lives of ECHS athletes.
“Within these walls future generations of Escambia County High School athletes will be molded not only in the skills of the game, but also in the values of teamwork, discipline and perseverance,” he said, adding that the facility “will serve as a catalyst for their personal and athletic growth, preparing them for success on and off the field.”
He thanked the “visionaries who spearheaded this project” and the “countless individuals who contributed their time, effort and resources” to make the fieldhouse renovation a reality.
When Goolsby finished his remarks, BOE members Loumeek White, Sherry Digmon, Cindy Jackson, Coleman Wallace and Mike Edwards joined the superintendent in ceremonially lifting a shovel of dirt, then tossing it forward in unison.
Most of the crowd then walked over to the main school building to participate in the ribbon cutting for ECHS’s new IT Academy.