By Kyle Roberts
Ruston High School’s main gymnasium is getting a fresh facelift — particularly in the main entrance, the upstairs concession area, and the locker rooms beneath the home-side bleachers.
“This is a long time coming,” Ruston High School principal Dan Gressett said. “I’ve been meeting with Coach (Leon) Barmore for two or three years now getting input from him and Coach Jack Thigpen along with others. We have gone over ideas for what could be done, and before, we could never get anything going.
“When we final got going– we had met one morning and had a building meeting, and by that afternoon, there were holes in the walls and the process had begun.”
Freshmen, junior varsity and varsity volleyball will have a new home under the bleachers, while athletic trainer Chris Brister’s class will be placed adjacent.
The main entrance will see a complete overhaul including restrooms, while the upstair concession area will have two bathrooms added on each side.
Currently, April of 2024 is the projected timeline for the completion, with a best case scenario of February; meaning that volleyball and basketball for Ruston High will be played away from the main gym. Plans are still being formulated regarding the temporary homes for fall and winter indoor sports.
“We’ve contacted (Louisiana Tech) about using the TAC for volleyball and basketball, if they can work around us,” Gressett said. “(Tech) will be playing volleyball and basketball at the same time, so that’s not easy to do.
“I’ve talked about using Memorial Gym (on Tech campus), or Ruston Junior High’s facilities, or the (Ruston Parks and Recreation) Sports Complex. There’s a lot of moving parts, and we don’t have anything nailed down as of right now.”
The floor itself, however, is not part of this plan, meaning that it will still be able to serve as a functional gym for practice and for gym classes. Fire marshal regulations will ultimately keep formal competition and large gatherings (such as homecoming assemblies) out of the main gym for the time being due to the lack of existing exits during construction.
Lincoln Parish School Board superintendent Ricky Durrett confirmed in a phone call that the money for the renovation will come from the federal COVID funding ESSER III (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund).
Plans for the renovation were drawn up by Michael L. Walpole, Architect, LLC.