Turner said his football organization would like to lease the Cumberland football field for its Saturday home games.
“What we are wanting to do is start a semi-professional football team in Harlan County. It is 90 percent local Harlan County boys, and we would like to lease the Cumberland football field from the board,” Turner said.
Gary Farmer, the chairman of the Harlan County School Board, said he does not want the semi-professional team to interfere with Cumberland Elementary School’s use of the facility.
“The only problem we have is we have an elementary school there that still uses that field,” Farmer said. “We just can’t put our elementary program out.”
“No, we wouldn’t want to do that,” Turner responded. “This is an opportunity for some of these young men — we send them to a combine at the end of the year — to maybe go on to arena football, or the NFL recruits out of it.”
Johnnie Turner, attorney for the board, said there are several issues that need to be addressed before a lease agreement can be discussed.
“If it is a non-school related activity sponsored by a community group, and it involves admission and is designated as a high-risk activity by the superintendent, and this would be in my opinion, the community group shall provide a certificate of liability insurance naming the board and the initial insurer under the policy for that activity,” Johnny Turner said. “Another thing provides that a principal or a principals designee has to be present for supervisory purposes.”
Johnnie Turner added that the football organization would also have to pay the wages of a food-service employee and obtain liability insurance.
“If you are going to run any food-service while you are there, you have to have a food-service employee, and the board will have to give you approval to use that. While they’re there, you are going to have to pay them their salary, and if they are working more than 40 hours that week, you have to even pay them their overtime. We (the school board) cannot be responsible for that,” Turner said. “Once you read what your rules are, it may be a problem that you can’t overcome. I don’t know. You will have to have a liability insurance that we will have to work in with our insurance. That is the biggest problem that I foresee. Once you get that done we have to enter into an agreement with you.”
Johnnie Turner added that the state board is technical about the use of school properties.
“We would like to get a field to play on. If we can work it out, we would be glad to work with you and do it right,” Steve Turner responded.
“It’s not just going to be a simple shake hands and get it done,” Johnnie Turner said.
“These kids want to play football, and we are just trying to make a way for them,” Steve Turner added.
The matter will be brought before the board for action at a later date.
Dan Vanhoose, the director of marketing for Appalachian Wireless, later addressed the board.
“I can tell you ahead of time, from a legal perspective, the use of school property is very limited,” Johnnie Turner told VanHoose. “If you all are thinking about putting a tower on that property, I’m sure we will have to contact the state board of education to get their permission first, before we can even consider a lease.”
VanHoose said Appalachian Wireless would like to lease a piece of school property to construct a tower that will provide cellular phone service to the school area.
“What we are looking for is something on the knob between where the football field and the baseball fields will be,” VanHoose said.
Johnnie Turner asked if the tower could be built on another knob on the property.
“What is the possibility of you putting it on the second knob?” Turner asked. “There is a road up to it from the other side of the tracks. We own that also.”
VanHoose said Appalachian Wireless would like enter into a 25-year lease for the property.
“Basically what we are proposing to do is acquire that piece of property for a term of 25 years,” VanHoose said. “The purpose of the property would be so we can construct about an 80-foot tower to transmit cellular signal. We have a store location ready to open in the Village Plaza. We are just trying to get the service to be a little bit better. Before we ask people to pay a monthly service, we want it to be something they can be proud of.”
Johnnie Turner said the state board of education would only allow property to be leased for one year at a time.
VanHoose said the tower’s only purpose would be to provide cell phone service to the new high school.
“The purpose of the tower is to simply serve the school and the school property. In addition to that — you have spent a significant amount of money — you have a beautiful facility that will be opened in August. It is not Appalachian Wireless’s desire to come in and put up a 300-foot structure there because we don’t want to ‘ugly up’ what you all have worked so hard to do,” VanHoose said.
“I would like for your engineer to go and look at the other site, which is maybe a hundred foot apart,” Turner later added.
Harlan County Schools Superintendent Tim Saylor discussed the possibility of above-ground electrical wires on the property.
“First of all I want to say that I think what you all are doing is great,” Saylor said. “All of our electrical wires are underground. We don’t have any on the property, and we really don’t want any on the property.”
The board did not take any action regarding the construction of a tower.