MORRISTOWN - It's been some 15 years since the track at Union Local High School was installed.
The track has been patched over that span in numerous places, but it was in dire need of a facelift.
And that process got under way last week as the original track has been ripped up to the asphalt and work has already begun on the installation process.
"I don't think the track has been re-surfaced since it was put in," said UL Athletic Director Mark Cisar. "It needs this bad."
The job, which is being done by Shelly and Sands, will take just a few days to get the new surface down. It will then bid out the work on the actual track to put on the rubbery surface and paint the lines around the oval.
"Once we peeled off the rubber surface, the asphalt was in very good condition, which we were very happy about," Cisar said. "After the new surface is down, we're looking at two more weeks for the painting."
Cisar expects the entire project to be completed by Oct. 10. Since the Jets' football team plays away the next two weeks, work crews will have plenty of time to work on the track.
There had been discussion about expanding the track to eight lanes, but since all but two schools in Belmont County have their own track, Union Local decided to stick with the six lanes.
"We don't have to host a lot of meets because so many schools have their own tracks, they host their own meets," Cisar pointed out. "We thought about going eight, but really there's no reason to. Plus, it would have been boocoo more money with all of the work that we would have had to have done in terms of moving the bleachers, fences, maybe the scoreboard, etc."
The price tag of the project is estimated at $100,000.
Prior to the last five or so track seasons, Cisar and Union Local maitanence worker LeRoy Carpenter have gone out and patched holes on the track, but it's gotten to the point where the patching isn't doing any good.
"That's become an absolute pain," Cisar said.
Cisar indicated that a few teams informed him that that they weren't going to return for the Gloria Dawes Invitational, which is the first big meet of the season unless something was done about the track because of the safety of athletes.
"Hopefully, those teams will come back and our meet will continue to be successful," Cisar said. "
The track will remain available for the public to utilize for exercise, but the overall usage of the surface will certainly dwindle as more and more track have sprung up around the Ohio Valley.
"We let so many different teams use it for practice before," Cisar said. "St. Clairsville has practiced on it before they got a track, East Richland Christian uses it, Martins Ferry has practiced on it in the past before they got a track. But, having it available for people to walk and jog really makes it nice for the community."
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org