Wind gusts lower the glow on Howard's only lit field

40-year-old pole falls

replacement uncertain

March 28, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Howard County's only lighted high school football stadium got a little darker last Thursday.

A storm blew down one of five wooden light poles on the visitors' side of the field at Howard High.

No plans have been made to replace the pole.

"That will be a main agenda when we get back in school," athletic director Vince Parnell said yesterday. Howard County schools are on spring break.

The structures, which resemble utility poles, were erected 40 years ago and paid for by parent fund-raising.

"They [the poles] obviously need to be upgraded," Parnell said. "The lights had been replaced but not the poles. There might have been some dry rot in it."

He wasn't certain how much it would cost to replace all of the poles with state-of-the-art metal ones but estimated it to be $40,000 to $50,000. He was uncertain how that would be funded.

Parnell, however, dismissed the idea that the all the lights might be removed as a safety precaution and that Howard might go dark, like other Howard County schools.

"There's a lot of history and tradition of Friday night football at Howard High that says that would be the wrong way to go," he said. "I know our community wouldn't want to go that way."

He said that 5 to 6 feet of the old pole remains in the ground, and that the county school system's field maintenance department cleaned up the fallen pole and broken glass.

"It broke at its base, but the electric cord didn't break, so all the other lights and the scoreboard still work," Parnell said. "Someone from the office of safety came out Friday and did an inspection and pronounced the other poles safe."

The missing pole did not prevent a boys lacrosse tournament from completing a 7:30 p.m. game Monday.

"We used brand-new white balls and didn't have any problems," said Wendell Thomas, Howard's coach and tournament director. "Most of the action in lacrosse takes place in front of the goals and not at the 50-yard line."

Parnell said that the school usually plays four or five night lacrosse games a year.

The Lions' girls team is scheduled to play a night game on April 5 against Atholton.

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