Mold concerns close Smithfield-Selma HS fieldhouse

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The fieldhouse is closed down at Smithfield-Selma High.

Standing water, rusted metal beams, and marred walls that parents claim are covered in mold, is not what head baseball coach Michael Sliger expected at the start of his second season leading the Smithfield-Selma Senior High School Spartans.

"It hasn't affected us much," Sliger said standing outside the padlocked fieldhouse doors. "I mean, we still practice hard every day regardless if we had the opportunity to go in there or not. We're still going to practice. We're still going to play. We're still going to have a place to change."

Taped to the locked doors, signs reading, "CLOSED FOR RENOVATION" hang outside the building that serves as the locker room for the JV and Varsity baseball teams.

The building has been off-limits to student-athletes since the end of February, when parents discovered the damage during the first team meeting of the season.

"There's mold in the fieldhouse, black mold. And it's everywhere." Mark Lee told the Smithfield Town Council at Tuesday night's meeting as he showed them pictures he took of what he believes is mold growing on the walls.

Lee's son is a member of the SSS varsity baseball team.

"The whole thing, as far as I'm concerned is, very bad shape, unrepairable really," he told ABC11.

The Johnston County School district said a leaky roof is to blame for the damage that happened sometime in the offseason.

"There was some stuff on the walls and some things like that. So we're actually in the process of testing to see what that is," said Tracey Peedin Jones, district spokesperson.

Jones said a certified inspector on the district's staff collected samples from the walls. As those samples are being tested in a lab, facility crews converted a space adjacent to the fieldhouse into a temporary changing room for the team to use.

Jones said the district is getting estimates for roof repairs along with plumbing and electrical work.

"I just hope that they don't try to Band-Aid it," Lee said, questioning whether renovations would be enough to keep the players safe.

Lee asked the town council to rally behind him in urging the school board to tear down the decades-old fieldhouse and build a new one.

"Especially, removing the mold from inside the cinder block walls; there is so much of it. If they had caught it or tried to fix it earlier, maybe so," he said. "But, it's just every wall and every way you look in there."

Jones said the district prides itself on maintaining facilities and prioritizes safety for students and faculty.

"We really, as stewards of taxpayers' money, we do have to look and see what is cost prohibitive," she said. "Tearing down a building and starting up new again, that's very, that's very expensive."

During the town council meeting, council members told Lee they would contact the Johnston County Board of Education and inquire about the damages to the fieldhouse.

For now, Coach Sliger said he and his team are just focusing on the season at hand.

"The school has provided many things for us and from my definition, my opinion, they've done a great job," he said.

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