Beallsville planning its new facilities

BEALLSVILLE –There are more ways to judge progress than through strictly wins and losses.

Especially at Beallsville High School.

Keep in mind, the school was on the brink of extinction just two years ago after the Switzerland of Ohio Board of Education voted to close the school. After a community uprising and some legal matters, the board relented and the school is still open.

Fast forwarding to the present, Beallsville High School isn’t just open. It’s preparing to improve, expand and create athletic facilities that school officials will help keep current students and possibily attract others.

The Blue Devils were formally approved for $1 million from the Switzerland of Ohio Board of Education during its meeting earlier this week with the plans of constructing a separate baseball and softball field at the high school and also building a fieldhouse at the football stadium.

“Our future definitely looks bright,” Beallsville Athletics Director Delmas Moore said. “We’re working very hard to keep our kids. As of now, we don’t have any of our eighth graders (from this past school year) open enrolled anywhere. Plus, we’re hoping to get some students back.”

Though very grateful for the board’s generosity, Moore admitted that the projects’ total cost will likely exceed the money pledged. But, he won’t let that stand in the way.

“The projects may take a little bit longer because we have to plan it out and see what materials we can get donated,” Moore said. “We’re also exploring grant opportunities that might exist. We’re trying to stretch our our dollars. When you hear $1 million, it sounds like a lot, and it is, but when you’re working on three projects, we will have to watch every nickle to make sure we’re getting the most bang for our buck.”

Planning will begin immediately because Moore believes the fields will be ready for the 2018 season. They will be constructed on the northern end of the school site.

“We think having them ready for next season is doable,” Moore said.

Currently, the Blue Devils’ baseball team shares its field with the football field. The outfield is actually the football field with the backstop and infield sitting behind where the visiting bleachers are erected during football season. The softball team plays on a community field, which is utilized a lot for the youth program, too.

“This past season, we played three home baseball games because it simply doesn’t drain well enough and with the wet spring, we had to move a lot of games,” Moore said. “The softball field is owned by the village and we’re trying to get all of our facilities on school property.”

Though it’s probably the most pressing need, Moore believes the football facility won’t be finished until before the 2018 season at the earliest. Currently, the Blue Devils have no locker room faciltiy at the stadium. They and their opposition — each week — work out of a portable building. Officials for the Blue Devils’ games dress at the current high school and are then “transported to the game site by van.”

“That building has no shower facility, only one toilet and just isn’t big enough,” Moore lamented. “It’s probably a 50-year old building and it’s in horrible shape. I can’t imagine any school having a worse facility for its football team than what we have. It’s great that that is going to come to an end soon.”

The fieldhouse, which will also house the wrestling team during the winter months, will be constructed right beside the field between where the concession stand is and where the current ‘fieldhouse’ currently sits.

Though not included in the two aforementioned projects, Moore indicated Blue Devils fans will recognize some cosmetic changes at this season’s football games. A new scoreboard will be installed by the end of this month. New fencing will also be erected around the facility.

“Those are major improvements,” Moore said. “We have a lot of things in the works and we’re definitely looking forward to them.”