His field of work is preparing others for play

Profile

May 07, 2000|By Lowell E. Sunderland

Name: Bob Harrison

Job description: Manager, grounds division for county school system. Responsible for maintenance of 1,300 acres of playing fields at 66 county schools that are heavily used by thousands of youth organization teams. Annual $3 million budget includes mowing, renovation, reseeding, general care of playing fields, high school stadiums, tracks, tennis and outdoor basketball courts. Full-time staff of 42 -- 37 groundskeepers and five mechanics -- plus a dozen summer workers.

Age: 58

Residence: Poplar Springs, western Howard County.

Personal: County native, born in Daisy, near Lisbon. Got married after graduating from the old Lisbon High School. Joined county school system 36 years ago, when it included 16 schools, as custodian. Managed custodial and grounds maintenance for many years, but with school system's growth, those duties were divided in 1998.

Best part of the job: "It's the satisfaction of seeing the kids enjoy the areas and play on them. Most recently, the feedback we've been getting on the Bermuda grass we've now put on six high school field hockey fields has been very nice. That grass requires more maintenance, but it holds up better in hot weather, recovers from cleats quickly, has a softer texture and is safer."

Biggest challenge of job: "Fighting the weather -- like the period of rain we've just been through. We get complaints from time to time, but the coaching staffs here are cooperative and understanding. Also, over the years, the school board has been reasonable with our budgets, although we get cut sometimes. But it still would be nice to have more money to deal with field renovations and new things, such as irrigation for high school fields, that we're phasing in."

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