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SP Athletic Foundation

This is a rendition of how the South Panola football field will look with new turf.

SPAF formed to head turf movement

The South Panola School District supporters are excited about the possibility of putting artificial turf on the football field.

“This is not just a football thing,” said Batesville Mayor Jeff Autrey. “This is benefit the whole community. That’s why I support it.”

It will cost an estimated $720,000 to lay a turf on the football field. Along with that project will be the resurfacing of the track. Lanes 1 and 2 of the track are so damaged the school can no longer host track events. That will cost about $50,000, according to Autrey.

The idea and presentation of this turf project has spurred community leaders to take action.

Coming out of the turf project is the formation of the South Panola Athletic Foundation.

“The South Panola Athletic Foundation (SPAF) was formed to enhance and improve the athletic and activity facilities in the South Panola School Distirct,” according to the brochure.

“I am always thankful for any community supporters who come in and help provide educational opportunities for the kids,” said South Panola Superintendent Dr. Keith Shaffer.

Shaffer acknowledges money will be saved in the lawncare fund with the addition of the turf. The turf will take the place of mowing, fertilizer, water, chalking or paint and staff time which costs about $10,000 a year to maintain a grass field.

There has been some concern that academics will be compromised with this turf.

“With the savings from lawn care, the money will be used wisely,” Shaffer said.

South Panola head coach Lance Pogue said the field gets “beat up” just with the varsity and junior high teams playing and practicing on it.

“Last year I had to turn down a little league football team that wanted to use the field because it was so beat up,” Pogue said. “With the turf I will not have to turn anyone away who wants to use it.”

The turf can be used by the band to practice at night under the lights right after the football team leaves the field, and with the state mandating physical education for all students, Shaffer said the field can be utilized in the day time for the middle and junior high schools.

Also, if it rains there will be no waiting time before an organization can use it.

Shaffer also pointed out that the high school ROTC program has a drill team and can sponsor drill events on the turf field. They have not been able to that with the grass field.

“We just have to move forward in things,” Autrey said. “We are not as big as Southaven, Olive Branch or Oak Grove, but Batesville has a big heart. It may take a while but we will get it done.”

With the SPAF, the whole community can have a part in this project. The Foundation can accept donation pledges which are tax deductible and payable over a 10-year period.

“I am convinced this turf project will be successful, and long-term. The SPAF will be very beneficial for South Panola athletics and activities, and the community.  The response thus far for the turf project has been overwhelmingly supportive,” Judge George Carlson said.

For questions, see the accompanying information on pledge levels or call Kenny Hopper at (662) 563-6404.