Jacksonville Independent School District officials apparently burned the midnight oil and left no stone unturned in their pre-bid investigative work focused on the sports arena that was once known as Lon Morris College's Vivian and Bob Smith Events Center.
Yes, school district officials buckled down and did their collective homework, and as a result of their efforts transforming the building, which JISD won via a bid earlier this year during the LMC liquidation proceedings, has been a silky-smooth process that is currently running on schedule, according to Dr. Joe Wardell, JISD superintendent.
“Everything has been going along well and it is our hope that we will be able to have Convocation (Aug. 16) in the building,” Wardell said in an interview Wednesday morning.
Wardell stated that the key to making everything click at what is now officially known as the Jacksonville Independent School District Gymnasium, was the work that was done behind the scenes prior to the school district bidding on the building and surrounding grounds.
“We did a lot of (advance) work like visiting extensively with (former LMC athletic director) Dale Dotson to find out what the issues were with the building and equipment prior to bidding on it,” Wardell said. “We had a pretty clear picture of what we would have do (to get the facility up to standard) and there really have not been any surprises once we were able to get in there.”
Wardell said that the air conditioning systems have been repaired — the Smith Events Center was without properly working air conditioning for the last year of its existence — , all asbestos has been removed from the building, new tile and flooring has been installed in many parts of the arena and the gym floor is in the process of being repaired and overhauled, which will include a graphics package featuring the JISD color schemes and logos.
Locker rooms, coaches offices, concession stands, etc. and common areas are being renovated with all of the LMC colors and imagery being converted to that of JISD.
On Wednesday morning there was far more JISD blue visible inside the facility, than LMC green, a testament to the amount of work that has been taking place at the building this summer.
JHS volleyball teams will continue to use the gyms located on the high school campus for practice and home matches in the upcoming season, with the new JISD Gymnasium expected to get its first big dose of business in late fall and winter when Indian and Maiden basketball open up shop in the facility.
With the arena now in its latter stages of renovation, one thing — pride — was clear Wednesday after talking to both Wardell and “Miguel”, a JISD painter who was hard at work inside the complex.
In listening to each man describe his respective involvement in the restoration and conversion of the arena there was no doubt that each was personally proud of what the building is becoming.
“With the price that we paid for the building plus the cost of the repairs and renovations, we have been able to get a new gymnasium for far less than it would have cost the school district to have built a new one,” Wardell said.
Wardell stated that the next phase of the process would be to address the parking situation around the JISD Gymnasium and that the school district's Board of Trustees had recently approved the final design for the parking lots for the building and that the school district would soon be taking bids on the work.
There's truly nothing like the feeling of when a plan comes together.