Print Crews race to finish Mingus field
Written by Greg Ruland   
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 00:00

Two crews were working around the clock to prepare Mingus Union High School’s new track and field for the Marauders’ first home football game against Payson High School Friday, Sept. 10, starting at 7 p.m.

Under the direction of Mingus Union High School District special projects manager John Behlow, the day crew was clipping stencils into the hot synthetic turf Thursday, Sept. 2, marking areas where numbers indicating yard lines were to be stitched.

Laborer Rogelio Morales shaves the field marker numbers out of the artificial turf of the new football field currently being installed at Mingus Union High School on Friday, Sept. 3. The new field cost the school district $1.2 million.Behlow’s biggest concern Thursday was an enormous red M which still had to be cut and then sewn into the center of the field.
“It will be tight, but I believe we’re going to make it,” Behlow said.

Rain delayed paving of the new, nationally certified track until this week, but Behlow again expressed confidence the project would be completed on time and under budget.

The new design, with its 100 meter curves and 400 meter total length, will allow MUHS to host official track meets for the first time in years, Superintendent Tim Foist said.

The $1.2-million project was financed through a lease-purchase arrangement with contractors that allows the district to spread payments over five years.

A project of this scope would normally take three months to complete but contractors are expected to finish in less than seven weeks, due in large part to Behlow’s efforts, Foist said.

“John [Behlow] has saved the district literally thousands of dollars on this project,” Foist said.

Behlow, who regularly works 18-hour days at the field, slept on a cot at the sports complex many nights to supervise crews in their work. He has poured and finished concrete and completed many other tasks, relieving the contractor of duties that would otherwise require diversion of resources to finish.

The savings made it possible for contractors to perform additional paving and concrete work beyond what was originally contemplated for the project, Behlow said.

A coach for the Marauders’ kickers and receivers, Behlow has a vested interest in seeing the field is ready in time for Friday’s game against Payson.

Behlow initiated the 24-hour work schedule starting Aug. 31, about one month into the project, which first broke ground June 28.

He displayed a notebook jammed full of detailed notes Thursday showing what tasks were completed each day. The notebook gives an indication of the scope of the project.

According to Behlow’s notes, contractors have hauled more than 220 large truckloads of specially mixed sand and other materials to the work site since June. Hundreds of white plastic bags filled with sand and tiny rubber pellets hauled to the scene waited to be spread on top of the turf Thursday.

A crew of nine workers labored overnights under the stadium lights in recent weeks, stretching and pulling sheets of five-yard swatches of synthetic turf into place. The sections are stitched together and pressed into position with a road roller.

Foist, who regularly delivers breakfast to the night crew and can sometimes be found wielding a rake or shovel to help out, said the new track and field “promises a great future for our community.”

Public access to the track and field through controlled turnstiles will be permitted once the project is completed, Foist said.

Behlow paused to survey the work Thursday, then pointed at other projects he has personally been involved with during his 30 years with the district, from the construction of baseball fields, to new landscaping at the entrance to the school.

He gave credit to many others who worked on the project, including Foist, the MUHSD Governing Board, contractors and volunteers.

“I want to make sure all the people who donated money and time and all the people who worked on this get a thanks from me,” he said. “This is for the kids.”