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Crescent Valley’s bleachers fail inspection

Prep sports: Crescent Valley’s bleachers fail inspection
November 27, 2012 12:00 am • By AARON YOST, Corvallis Gazette-Times

Two weeks shy of opening basketball season, Crescent Valley High athletic director Craig Ellingson began reworking both the boys and girls schedules.

A simple inspection of the school’s bleachers — no less than 35 years old and reportedly in use since the school opened its doors in 1971 — as part of routine maintenance ended their use. That decision set a number of wheels in motion that won’t come to rest until after an emergency meeting of the Mid-Willamette Conference athletic directors on Thursday.

Even then, motion will continue.

The Raiders’ bleachers have been deemed no longer safe to be used. That means nowhere for fans to sit for basketball.

“This couldn’t come at a worse time as far as winter sports are concerned; however, safety is, of course, the top priority,” CV principal Cherie Stroud said in an email.

Practices and physical education classes continue uninterrupted at Raider Gym. Games, which start Dec. 4, are another matter.

Ellingson spent the Thanksgiving break reworking the Raiders’ schedules — switching to doubleheaders whenever possible on Fridays or moving games to Corvallis High.

Ellingson and CHS athletic director Bob Holt met before school on Monday to go over an initial proposal and blend the schedules into something workable.

“I had in mind kind of what would work without disrupting Corvallis High,” Ellingson said. “We’re playing there on nights or Wednesdays when they’re away.”

So a Spartans program will run its practice after school, and the Raiders will come into the building afterward for its games.

“It’s no different from when Corvallis played its football games here while Corvallis High was being built,” Ellingson said. “It’s not ideal, but like I told our kids, by the end of the season, travelling won’t be a big deal to us.”

There will continue to be tweaks and adjustments — Ellingson had made five modifications between Monday morning and 3 p.m. — up through the AD’s meeting on Thursday.

The Raiders won’t go all season in borrowed locker rooms. CV’s girls team — coached by Ellingson — will play at home on Dec. 4 against Churchill.

They’ll use chairs for seating, which will be limited, and if it’s a disaster, there will be more adjustments made.

“I talked to Churchill’s AD and logistic-wise it wasn’t going to work,” Ellingson said. “I said let’s try a game here and see how it feels. If it doesn’t work, we won’t do the other ones here.”

Playing the doubleheaders — something CHS and CV have done in the past on occasion for the crosstown rivalry games — brings some perks with it.

“There’s some upside to it,” Ellingson said. “We’ll do a lot of doubleheaders on Friday nights. We’ll get to watch the boys play a lot more and actually I’m kind of excited about it. It’s nice for the kids to watch each other play.”

The tentative final schedule will — hopefully — emerge from the AD’s meeting. Ellingson is already aware of a couple difficult nights; including contests with Woodburn and Dallas impacted by gym size and district furlough days.

Further tweaking as the year wears on are a certainty.

“Safety has to be the key, and that’s what we’re going with,” Ellingson said.

No timetable for replacing the condemned bleachers is in place, though Ellingson believes it’ll likely happen sometime next summer.

There was an inevitability, given the structure’s age, but they had passed inspection last spring and functioned throughout volleyball season.

A series of inspections in preparation for basketball and wrestling, though, resulted in the failure.

“The one inspector just determined that things were getting looser and swaying more than they had been,” Ellingson said. “The district is doing what they have to do, making sure that things are safe for everyone.”

Unlike the bleachers at Corvallis, which are backed against a structural wall on each side of the court, the bleachers at CV are freestanding when collapsed, creating three distinct courts of play.

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