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Picayune school board OKs aid for softball field house, batting cage

Kristi Mitchell reminded the Picayune school board at its Tuesday night meeting that it had approved a senior project by fast-pitch softball player Malissa Fowler to raise money to help provide a batting cage and field house for the her team.
Hurricane Katrina came along and battered those plans, but Fowler, who has now completed a year of college, continued with her efforts to provide the facilities for her team. Her efforts, coupled with other fund raising efforts by the team, have generated $20,000 for the facility, Mitchell said.
“We have enough to do the dirt work, lay a slab and build the walls,” Mitchell said. “But we need help with the top.”
The school board asked her how much she needed and Mitchell said she needed $10,000, which was quickly approved
Board members then thanked Mitchell for adding to her coaching duties by agreeing to coach the Tide girls basketball team. Mitchell already coaches both fast-pitch and slow-pitch girls softball.
“I want to personally thank you for taking that position (of girls) basketball coach,” said Duane Wheat. He was joined with a chorus of agreement from the other board members.
“Thank you for that,” Mitchell said, “but I want to be the first to say that it will be a year for rebuilding.”
Mitchell then returned to the discussion of the field house and batting cage, pointing out the work that Fowler has done to raise the money for the project.
“She has not quit on her senior project,” Mitchell said. “… She wants to come back and get those four points (for completing the project).”
Mitchell said the facility will be 40 feet by 90 feet when complete and will include a batting cage with enough room for the fast-pitch pitchers to practice, a dressing facility and bathrooms.
Asked by board member Harvey Miller if she could help with a youth fast-pitch girls softball program at Friendship Park, Mitchell said she already was working with a pre-teen girls fast-pitch softball team and said she would be happy to help with the city effort, since it would feed into the high school team.
“I want you to know we had 70 girls tryout last year,” Mitchell said.
The board approved hiring John Feaster as an assistant high school football coach and security at Nicholson Elementary School. Miller said that Feaster played football at Cincinnati University and would replace Chad Coleman, who is moving to Stone County.
The board also asked assistant superintendent Bill Spiers to gather more information about a proposed contract with the Swim Hutch Aquatic Center that is for about $800 more than the contract the district had with the facility last year.
Spiers told the board that Kent Kirkland, co-principal at Picayune Memorial High School, had talked with the facility’s owner and recommended the contract. Spiers said he would talk with Kirkland to gather more information on the facility and the contract.
Following an executive session, the board approved the petty cash report that had been referred to executive session and approved a coaching supplement for Mitchell for becoming the girls basketball coach.
In other matters, the board:
— Approved personnel matters, except for one item on the certified list.
— Carried petty cash into executive session.
— Approved a donation of $500 from the Pequea Valley (Pa.) School District to the Camp Hip Hop fund on with four votes for approval and an abstention by Wheat.
— Approved student transfer requests.
— Approved bank authorizations.
— Approved 16th section matters.
— Approved the procurement plan for food services.
— Approved the 1st reading of a revision on the board policy on compensation guides/contracts.
— Approved a dyslexia grant application.
— Approved ABE budget.
— Approved bus turnarounds.
— Approved having the district architect research options for the Bertie Rouse building historic grant of $256,000.
Adjourned.