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Florida Keys News
Monday, May 19, 2014
Bleacher repairs on track

Repairs to the bleachers at Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium are proceeding apace and will be complete in time for the Key West High School graduation ceremony, on June 6.

That's according to the school district's Executive Director of Operations and Planning Pat Lefere who said on Friday, "Everything is on track."

The rickety bleachers date back to the 1950s, and have required annual maintenance for years. Safety concerns were voiced last June as the KWHS Class of 2013 prepared for its graduation ceremony, and stop-gap repair measures were implemented in time for the event.

On March 1, Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter informed members of the School Board via email that due to ever-increasing safety concerns, action would need to be taken, without recourse to board procedures and policies.

Structural engineer Allen Perez, who visited the site Jan. 27, made his recommendation to Porter on Feb. 25 that significant repairs would have to be made to the bleachers before Tommy Roberts Memorial Stadium could accommodate any more events, including the diploma walk of the Class of 2014, scheduled for June.

Porter then brought the $220,000 contract, with Key West firm Ratclciff Welding and Fabrication before the board on April 9, for an after-the-fact vote.

Given this history, most board members polled during the week of the vote questioned the sudden urgency of the matter, a fact not lost on the superintendent.

"We've gone back and identified perhaps where we could have shared additional information," Porter admitted during the debate. "It's certainly not the way we want to do business."

Despite some grumbling from fiscal conservatives Ed Davidson, of District 3, and John Dick, of District 4, the measure passed - without Davidson's support.

On Sunday, Key West High School Principal Amber Archer Bosco confirmed that the graduation proceedings would take place as scheduled, at Tommy Roberts.

"Everything is on schedule and on track," Bosco said. "We're going to have our traditional ceremony, and it's going to be great."

tschmida@keysnews.com

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