The four 100-foot-tall light poles at the Archbold High School football stadium cannot be certified as safe and must be taken down, said David Deskins, Archbold Area School District superintendent.
Speaking to the district school board at its Monday, July 19 meeting, Deskins said the galvanized steel poles, which can weigh up to four tons each, were ultrasonically tested by a Rochester, Mich.–based laboratory, Tuesday, July 13.
The lab could not certify the poles, and there is no way to fix them.
It is not known how the problem with the poles will impact the 2010 AHS football season.
During 2004 and 2005, a group of citizens led a fund drive to build a new sports complex at Archbold High School, which included a new football stadium.
Local contractors, working with sales representatives, selected 109-foot galvanized steel light poles from the Whitco Company, Ft. Worth, Texas.
Deskins said in August 2009, the school district was informed by the Consumer Product Safety Commission that nine Whitco light poles had fallen over. No one had been injured, but the falling poles caused damage to stadiums and buildings.
In one case, a pole toppled onto a gymnasium. The lights at the top of that pole punched a hole in the roof of a high school gym, depositing debris on the gym floor.
In January 2010, Deskins said school officials received word the poles were breaking at the base, where the base plate was welded to the pole. The problem was traced to fractures and cracks at the welds.
Currently, 11 poles have fallen across the U.S., and 50 more poles were found to have cracks or fractures at or near the base-plate welds.
The CPSC issued a recall on Tuesday, July 6, for more than 2,500 Whitco poles manufactured in the United States and Mexico.
Deskins said school district officials contacted the testing laboratory in January, and arrangements were made to have the poles tested.
However, Deskins said in an earlier interview that employee left the firm, and somewhere along the line, Archbold’s request for in- spection was lost.
The inspection firm was contacted again. Because of the mix-up, the lab will conduct two inspections for the price of one.
Deskins put the cost of the inspections at about $1,000.
The company’s technician observed cracking in the poles near the welds, and the poles showed signs of stress.
Arrangements were made to remove the poles, but at press time, Deskins could not say when they would be taken down.
The challenge for Archbold schools, Deskins said, is to try and find new light poles that will carry the load of the football stadium lighting system, reach the desired height, and fit the concrete foundations poured for the Whitco poles.
If already-manufactured poles cannot be found, school district officials may have to look into different lights andor build new foundations for different poles.
That could impact the football season.
Deskins said he has had discussions with Allan Gladieux, AHS athletic director, and Bryan Miller, AHS head football coach.
“Our concern is to maintain safety first,” he said.
AHS is schedule to host a scrimmage against Eastwood High School on Friday, Aug. 20. The first home game is set for Friday, Aug. 27, against Hicksville.
There are two away games, then the Streaks are set to play Evergreen at home on Friday, Sept. 17.
If the lighting situation cannot be resolved by the first home games, Deskins came up with some options:
•Play the games at the opposing team’s field, and make arrangements to alter the schedule the following year.
•Play the games at Spengler Field in Ruihley Park, with additional temporary seating.
•Rent portable lights to light the new football stadium.
•Play the home games during daylight hours on Saturday afternoons.
No definite decisions have been made.
Deskins told board members Whitco changed hands in 2005. In 2006, the company went out of business.
As a result, AHS, other schools, park districts, etc., cannot file claims against the manufacturer.
Deskins said he spoke with an official of the Parks & Recreation Department in Wooster, Mass.
That community’s parks department had partnered with the local school district to build a new sports complex. That complex used Whitco poles.
Two of Wooster’s poles were knocked over by wind.
Deskins said 11 other poles at the Wooster complex were inspected; all had to come down.