By John William Gallagher
Around 4:15 p.m. Thursday, the players of the Clay-Chalkville baseball team went to turn the lights on at the Clay-Chalkville baseball stadium. The lights started to warm up and brought the field out of the afternoon shadows.
This morning, head coach Brandon Johnson had a meeting to discuss the issue with the Jefferson County Board of Education superintendent Dr. Phil Hammonds and deputy superintendent Dr. Yancy Morris. Before Johnson could say anything, both apologized for what the team was going through and said they would take care of it. Before lunch, the team had power at the field. This afternoon, Dr. Morris went to meet with Alabama Power to discuss the issue
The power bill has been an issue for the Cougars baseball team for over a year now. In 2010, the baseball team itself was held responsible for paying for the lights at the stadium. Prior to this change, the city’s Park and Recreation Board financed the operation of the stadium lights.
In an effort to solve the issue, the boosters and parents created a plan on how to pay the bill and the issues seem to be resolved.
“We want to pay what we owe,” Johnson said.
Problems began last year, when unusually high electricity bills were coming in to the Cougar team, causing high bills that could not be paid by team fees alone.
Last season, the team went from June to February with no power on the field. This summer, the team had no power beginning in July, as a mounting $8,500 bill hung over the team.
This year, payments were being made again to alleviate the situation. Still, half the budget was going to pay for the lights. For the 2012-13 school year, the same mounting bills will present themselves.
“This facility was built by the parents and the boosters,” Johnson said. “We just want to get to the bottom of it. We don’t want to end up back in the same boat.”