Authorities inspected and approved the bleachers just hours before Thursday night’s game between Norwalk and Willard.
Spectators were quite pleased with the new seating arrangements, as the stands were nearly packed to capacity.
“I think it’s positive because it reflects the dedication of the community and that they can pull together and get this quality of work,” Norwalk resident Karla Williams said. “I think it’s also good for the students to be able to see the support.”
On Wednesday, school officials were told the bleachers would not be available for use for Thursday’s game, due to scheduling issues involving the inspectors.
However, Corey Ream, director of operations for Norwalk City Schools, and Dustin Brown, Director of Maintenance and Transportation, were able to get the inspectors from Richland County out to the field before the game.
“We were able to get everyone’s schedule to line up and get an inspector up here around 4 p.m.,” Ream said.
Norwalk City Schools Superintendent George Fisk also was excited to see the seats open to the fans.
“They really went above and beyond to help us get the bleachers open tonight,” he said. “I think (the improvements) start with safety. Redoing and reengineering the bleachers provides a whole other level of safety that we didn’t have when they were wood. I personally think they’re a little more comfortable than the wood ones and I think fans will enjoy it for that reason too.”
One such fan, Cossondra Shinski, couldn’t agree more.
“I’m happy because They’re a lot more stable than the old ones and they make the field look a whole lot nicer,” Shinski said.
In February, the board accepted a $282,562 bid to replace and upgrade the home-side bleachers. The entire process took slightly longer than a month.
The upgrades to the bleachers include new all-aluminum decking, additional brace supports, new stairs and a handicapped-accessible ramp near the concession stand, full handrails from the bottom of the bleachers to the top, new fencing at the top and a wider walkway in front of the first row.
Previously, the only access to the concession side of the bleachers was the handicapped-accessible ramp, which held only about four wheelchairs. The wider walkway will hold as many as 12 wheelchairs.