From fields of dreams, to potential nightmares

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - It was unsettling to discover some school officials were unaware their athletes and fans could, potentially, be in danger.  We followed up with those schools to see what steps were taken to keep their fields of dreams from becoming nightmares.

Cracks and breaks at the base sent nine confirmed Whitco Co. LP poles tumbling down, threatening to put out the Friday night lights.

"At church, at Walmart, everywhere you go, people were asking, were our poles going to fall," said Barry Choate, director of operations for Athens ISD.

Whitco Co. LP is out of business.  Our investigation traced poles to stadiums and fields in Arp, Athens, Big Sandy, Hallsville and Overton.

Choate said after we called, the district began taking inspection bids.  Reliapole inspected checked out 10 questionable poles at the football and baseball fields.  The extensive report came back just over a week ago.

"We were in good shape," he said.  Athens' poles are now on a rotating inspection schedule.

The Arp Tigers are now 8-0.  The district is 4-0 in pole failures.

Superintendent Toney Lowery said the district considered bringing in inspectors, but did not. He said the four poles around Arp's football stadium are buried deep into the ground, cased in cement.  They are no bolt-based.

"Every Friday night, I'm there, my wife's there, my daughter's a cheerleader," he said.  "I assure everybody, I would not put any of them in any danger at all."

Superintendent Scott Beene found out Big Sandy owns eight Whitco Co. LP poles.  He expects an engineer on his baseball and softball diamonds soon.

"$6,700 is pretty cheap compared to the safety of students," said Beene.  "Hopefully everything checks out and our poles are all good."

The poles can be as tall as 140 feet and weigh up to four tons.

Hallsville ISD and Overton ISD also had poles inspected.  Overton Superintendent Allen Umholz said their polls are in good shape, but thanks to a new bond package, new ones are on there way to the football stadium.

Hallsville put its poles on a rotating inspection schedule.

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