Thanks to BGE, Howard High will see the light

Utility comes to rescue after storm downed pole


High schools

April 10, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Howard County's only lighted football stadium is getting a new lease on life courtesy of the Baltimore Gas and Electric Co.

After a storm blew down one of 10 wooden light poles at Howard High in March, concern arose in the community about how to restore the lighting.

BGE has volunteered to replace the pole at no cost to Howard, and it hopes to complete the work by next week if the necessary work permit can be expedited.

The gesture of goodwill from BGE originated when Mike Mershon, a salesperson in BGE's sports and specialty lighting department, happened to read a Sun story online about the wind blowing down the pole.

"I'm a sports fanatic and I understood their difficulty. I didn't want kids playing on a dangerous field," Mershon said. "We have plenty of the 50-foot poles they needed, and we could absorb the labor, so I thought why not be the good guys? Fortunately, management felt the same way."

Mershon's boss, Chuck Lacey, the director of outdoor lighting, happens to be a Howard County resident and thought it was a good idea to help out.

Mershon estimated the total cost for the job would have come to $4,000 to $6,000, including labor.

"They'll need three sports lighting fixtures on the pole," Mershon said. "It's an antiquated way of lighting a field, but back when it was done it served their purpose."

The poles are 40 years old, and the Howard school community raised the money to put up the original lights.

The Howard County School Board has since refused several requests to erect lights at other high school football stadiums - free of cost to the county.

Some Howard sports fans had been concerned that the cost of repairing the light pole might lead to the demise of lights at Howard.

"This is a dream come true for us," said Howard athletic director Vince Parnell. "It's an answer to our prayers."

"I really didn't see the county doing anything about it, and suddenly somebody [Mershon] e-mails us and offers to help out because of the Sun's story. Lights are important to Howard High and to the area."

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