Lincoln Civic Center

Arena officials, users find agreement over flooring PDF Print E-mail

A new flooring for the Lincoln County Multi-Purpose Complex Arena could be installed in a matter of weeks after facility manager Quinn Jordan and a group of local equestrians reached an agreement on the materials that should be used.

In a meeting Wednesday, Jordan and the group agreed to use a standard, sandy loam, brown dirt commonly found in low-lying areas and around water sources for mixture with sand donated from Pike County's Fred Boyd. Pending approval of the materials by the multi-purpose commission, the only question remaining is where the brown dirt can be obtained, whether donated or purchased.

"We're going to add 9 inches of the brown dirt and 3 to 4 inches of the sandy material donated by Mr. Boyd," Jordan said. "These recommendations come from multiple consultants."

Jordan said there were several options available for finding sources of the brown dirt including, possibly, on the multi-purpose facility grounds. All options will be explored before a final decision is made.

"We will decide, as a group, what we all feel offers the best consistency to fulfill the footing needs across all disciplines for the arena," Jordan said.

Once the source of the brown dirt is located, Jordan said volunteer and jail inmate labor would be used to prep the arena. The existing arena floor will be stripped out, taking into consideration the desired height that will result in the addition of 12 inches of the new material mixture.

"We're gonna strip it down far enough that when we add this new mixture back in, we will hit a certain point that will be conducive to the height requirements of the perimeter fence," Jordan said.

Before the new materials are installed, Jordan said the left-over river sand brought in months ago from Franklin County - the first unsuccessful attempt to refloor the arena - would be recycled as a 1-inch moisture barrier at the base. This way, Jordan said, the donated sand would not be wasted.

The commission is splitting the cost of the efforts concerned equestrians who are headed up by National Barrel Horse Association Director Valorie Oglesby.

Jordan estimated the total cost of replacing the arena floor would range between $5,000 and $10,000, with each party picking up its half of the cost. Jordan said the cost estimates are subject to change based on the location of the brown dirt source and the cost of transporting it to the arena.

The only hang-up remaining between the commission and the equestrians is the price of the consultant who will be on hand to oversee the installation and leveling of the new floor.

The commission has required that the consultant be present, but has said it will not share the cost of the consultant's work. The consultant is estimated to cost up to $2,000, Jordan said.

Jordan said he would urge the commission to reconsider helping cover the cost of the consultant at the next meeting, but the commission's approval is not guaranteed.

The equestrian group, meanwhile, does not think the presence of a consultant is necessary. They believe the brown dirt/sand mixture will do the job.

Furthermore, if the consultant must be present, the group thinks it is unfair that the commission is not agreeing to help pay the cost.

"(We) brought it to the commission that we not use this consultant before, but the commission has decided that they need an expert or a knowledgeable person to help set up the arena," Oglesby said.

South Mississippi Horse Association Director Linda Case also feels the consultant is unnecessary.

"I think we have enough people in this county that have ridden and worked on and built arenas that we shouldn't have to pay a fee for some consultant to tell us if the ground is correct or not," she said. "It's the main hold-up for us - that we have to raise the money for the consultant's fee."

Despite the differences between the equestrians and the commission over the requirement of a consultant, all other disagreements have ceased.

"I think we are making progress," said Leigh Ann Richardson, an arena frequenter and member of both SMHA and NBHA. "I feel like we're being listened to, the effort is being made and I think the board and volunteers are coming together. The solution is going to be very soon."

Richardson said the new dirt/sand mixture should provide good footing for horses of all equine disciplines - the number one condition set forth by the commission before the dirt search began. She said that, unlike the current, clay-based arena floor, the new mixture would not pack into a hard covering, which is dangerous for horse and rider alike.

"When a horse weighs 1,200 pounds, you need adequate footing," Richardson said. "These horses aren't just trotting, they're going full speed. Horses have to have enough give to get into a turn, but it's got to hold them also."

Richardson said the new dirt/sand mixture would give the arena's footing the right balance of give and take.

Pending commission approval, all the remains now is to find a source of the agreed-upon brown dirt.

Jordan said he would appreciate the assistance of anyone who has such a dirt on their property or knows where to find it. Anyone wishing to sell or donate brown dirt may bring a sample by the multi-purpose office on Beltline Drive. Jordan can be reached at the office at (601) 823-9064.