Coast school districts investing millions in athletic facilities

Workers unload material for softball practice facility under construction at Ocean Springs high school on Wednesday. The $524,000 facility will have locker rooms and batting cages.
Workers unload material for softball practice facility under construction at Ocean Springs high school on Wednesday. The $524,000 facility will have locker rooms and batting cages.

Local school districts are investing millions of dollars in new athletic facilities for use by the students and in some cases for community events.

These projects top the list of $3.6 million in commercial development in South Mississippi over the past two weeks.

Building permits have been issued for:

▪  $2.1 million for a gymnasium at Gulfport High School

▪  $524,000 for an indoor softball practice facility at Ocean Springs High School

▪  $250,000 for a gymnasium at St. Martin East Elementary School

Gulfport will finance the new “practice gymnasium” at the high school with the last of a $40 million bond that was issued in 2015 for renovations to the school, said MC Price Barton, communications coordinator for the district.

“That will be the last piece to our high school renovation project,” she said. A grand opening to show the community the improvements to the school is on Oct. 14 and she said the new gym is expected to be complete late next spring.

During the construction project, the original gym was demolished. “We need another space,” she said, and this new 5,546-square-foot gym will be used for physical education classes and provide a venue for school and community events.

“This is going to open doors for so many other events,” she said.

At Ocean Springs High, the slab foundation is being prepared for the metal building that will house the new indoor softball practice facility for the girls’ middle school and varsity teams, said Mark Hubbard, athletic director. It will have batting cages, dressing rooms, offices and restrooms, and he said it’s at the perfect location, just north of the softball field.

The facility will be used primarily during the softball season from February through May. “Any other time it has to be during their special classes,” he said. The district has classes for softball and other sports training, he said.

Work is just getting started on a new gym at St. Martin East Elementary, while a new a gym was dedicated last week at St. Martin North Elementary.

“It’s completely paid for,” said Principal Lisa Suarez, and took more than five years to complete, one fundraiser at a time. It’s the first gym in a lower elementary school in the school district, she said, and was built in starts and stops over the years as more funds were raised in partnership with the Jackson County School Board, community members, faculty, students and parents.

“It’s mainly going to be for our students,” she said, and mainly for physical education classes since all of the more than 600 students take P.E. once a week.

Celebrating the Sept. 12 grand opening with the students at St. Martin North Elementary was Coach Calhoun, known for his “Move to Learn” videos.

“We got on the waiting list for him about a year and a half ago,” Suarez said. He stars in some of the 50 videos created by the Bower Foundation and the Mississippi Department of Education’s Office of Healthy Schools for free use by the schools.

Occasionally the new gym will host school events, like a Sock Hop for students and adults planned on Oct. 5 during Cruisin’ The Coast week.

The elementary school used to be part of a campus of schools on Lemoyne Boulevard in St. Martin and was spared by Hurricane Katrina because it was the farthest back from the water.

“The storm took the Middle School and the Upper Elementary,” Suarez said. The parcels on which the schools stood were deeded to Jackson County, and she said there are plans for a splash pad and walking trail on the site, expanding the new athletic facilities at the school.

Residential development also continues strong in South Mississippi, promising more new students for the local schools. In the last two weeks, construction began on seven new homes in Jackson County and 25 in Hancock and Harrison counties. The Treen Report of building permits shows Kevin Lizana of Gulfport is renovating 23 residential units at 16220 Lizana School Road at a cost of $65,000 each.

Coast Development

New commercial construction permits were issued in South Mississippi for:

▪  $2.1 million for 9,546-square foot-gymnasium at Gulfport High School, 100 Perry St. Contractor is Wharton Smith Inc., Gulfport

▪  $524,000 for indoor softball practice facility at Ocean Springs High School, 6701 Old Spanish Trail. No contractor is listed.

▪  $250,000 for gymnasium at St. Martin Elementary School in the Jackson County School District. Contractor is C. Roberds General Contractors, Biloxi.

▪  $165,000 for new parking lot at 1 Engram Court, Gulfport. Owner is Mississippi Regional Housing Authority, Gulfport. Contractor is Vision Construction, Gulfport.

▪  $100,000 for a 4,000-square-foot addition at The Salvation Army, 8405 U.S. 49, Gulfport. Contractor is Robinson Family Builders, Gulfport.

▪  $100,000 for renovations at the Best Western, 9475 U.S. 49, Gulfport. Contractor is Shular Contracting Inc., Gulfport

▪  $100,000 for renovations at 14370 Seaway Road, Gulfport. Owner is Seaway Properties, Metairie, Louisiana. Contractor is Garlon Homes, Gulfport.

▪  $96,000 for renovations of the police station at 356 Nicholls Drive, Biloxi. Contractor is E. Cornell Malone Corp., Hattiesburg

▪  $58,000 for work at the addition to Island View Casino, 3305 W. Beach Blvd., Gulfport. Contractor is Rebel Sound, Long Beach.

▪  $50,000 for renovations at Kim Long Restaurant, 832 Division St., Biloxi. Contractor is HBA Electric/Keith Hammond, Long Beach.

▪  $38,000 for tenant finish of a bar and grill at 2650 Beach Blvd., Biloxi. Owner is Vernon Wilson, Biloxi. No contractor listed.

▪  $13,000 for renovation to an office building at Palm Oak Apartments, 4409 McArthur St., Pascagoula. Contractor is Professional Construction/Remodeling, Ocean Springs.

The Treen Report