UPDATE: Most Bleachers Installed; Work Continues On Erickson Renovation

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Updated 6/2/2015 5:30 P.M.

Most of the new bleachers went up this past weekend.

But the renovation work at the Erickson All-Sports Facility goes on.

This week, cement foundations for the climbing stairs are being laid.

Other work is being done, as materials and money become available.

But the project is still on track to be completed by the time soccer and football begin in late August.

"Unless we have a problem getting materials," says Construction Manager Charlie Cayton, "that may change it. But we have three months to get this done, and I don't see a problem at all."

Rick Bush, president of the Erickson committee, says a line of credit is available for completion of the project.

Still to be done: installation of VIP bleachers, the concession stand and restrooms.

Cayton says $60,000 has been raised, and volunteers are helping to make that funding go a long way.

40 volunteers helped install the new bleachers Saturday.

Updated: 5/7/2015 6:30 P.M.

The Erickson All-Sports committee continues looking for money for a renovation project.

It went to the Wood County Commission Thursday, seeking $2,500 for the renovation work at Erickson Field.

That work includes installation last Friday of a new press box.

The group got individual pledges of private donations from two of the three commissioners, but the request for county funds hasn't been acted on yet.

It needs more than $300,000 to finish the project.

"We have raised, thus far, a little over $100,000 for this project," says committee head Rick Bush. "We have a $200,000 line of credit, so we have no fear of not being able to pay for this, but we do want to pay our line of credit."

Also: after a half-hour closed-door meeting, the commissioners approved negotiations for a new site for the day report center.

They would not comment, however, on whether that site is the Garfield Avenue building, which was looked at earlier this year.

Updated: 5/1/2015 5:30 P.M.

The bleachers still have to be completed.

But the press box at the home of the Parkersburg South Patriots is now in place.

The Erickson All-Sports Committee has been making renovations to the field as the money has become available to do them.

Friday, with the structure where the bleachers will be built completed, it was time for the new press box to be put in place.

Skies were overcast when the work was done shortly after 9 A.M., and there was concern the winds could pick up, which would have caused it to be delayed.

That didn't happen. But it still took some time for the press box to be lifted into place.

"Getting the crane in here, making the lift, getting everything in position," says Charlie Cayton, Construction Manager. "Because we have a certain place up there within an inch or so that we have to set the press box down on. It's a tedious process."

Workers plan to install the new bleachers this month. They're named for longtime principal Tom Eschbacher, who passed away in 2014.

It's expected concession stands and restrooms will be installed this summer.

Updated: 3/14/2015 6:00 P.M.

The Wood County Board of Education is close to naming the home side bleachers at Erickson Field for a beloved Parkersburg South principal.

But in so doing, members want to make sure they are not setting a precedent.

The school system traditionally has had a two-year waiting period to name property in someone's honor.

But as soon as its next meeting March 24th, it may waive that requirement to rename the home bleachers at Erickson Field for former Parkersburg South principal Tom Eschbacher.

"The steel for the bleachers is scheduled to be delivered March 31st," Rick Bush, President of the Erickson Corporation, told the board Tuesday. "The process of getting fire marshal approval is well along. If Tom had retired last June or July, I wouldn't be here; we'd wait our two years. (But) under the circumstances he left us, I think it's fair."

Eschbacher died last July, after a long battle with brain cancer.

The board Tuesday expressed its support for naming the bleachers in his honor.

But members are also considering changes in its policy of naming board of education facilities.

UPDATE 8/1/2014 10:30 AM

A routine Wood County Board of Education meeting becomes a night of remembrance.

The board discussed the possibility of re-naming the Erickson All-Sports Facility home bleachers in honor of the late Parkersburg South High School principal, Tom Eschbacher.

President of the Erickson Committee, Rick Bush, says after a bid by Southern Bleachers Company, 4,000 bleachers would cost $600,000.

Money's not the only hurdle though.

In order for the Eschbacher bleachers to become a reality, the board will have to waive a current policy stating an employee must be out of the system for two years in order to name a project.

"After the memorial service the other night, Mr. Eschbacher had expressed as one of his final wishes that no one bring flowers, but instead make a donation to Erickson. And we walked out of there the other night with approximately $3,000 in new donations," says Bush.

The policy does not include death of an employee.

With a unanimous vote, the board voted to form a committee to review the current policy and report at the next meeting, August 5th.

UPDATE 7/28/2014 10:30 AM

One week after a tragic loss for the Parkersburg South community, a movement is underway to commemorate principal Tom Eschbacher under the Friday night lights.

The Erickson Committee is continuing construction of a new set of home bleachers at the Erickson All-Sports Facility.

The group wants to name those bleachers in honor of Eschbacher.

The 51-year-old died Friday, July 18 after a long battle with brain cancer.

But school board policy says any naming will have to wait for at least 2 years.

The committee wants the board to make an exception.

"I have not heard a negative thought from anyone that this would be a bad idea. So we're hoping that the school board will take some action now instead of requiring it to happen two years from now. If they don't, we can be patient," says Rick Bush, President of the Erickson Committee.

Bush says his group hopes to complete the bleachers in time for football season next year.

That will add an additional 4,800 seats.

Until then the committee awaits word from the board.

UPDATE 7/23/2014 12:35 PM

Hundreds showed up Tuesday night to pay their respects to a beloved school leader.

Thomas Eschbacher passed away last Friday after a long, courageous battle with brain cancer.

He was only 51.

But his legacy will live on.

The high school's auditorium was packed Tuesday night with friends, family and students wanting to pay their respects.

Also there, the school's band and choir.

A fitting farewell for a man who began his career in music education.

Through the tears, many shared their stories of the man who they say devoted his life to Parkersburg South.

"He was just well loved and well respected as you can tell by the turnout of the community here tonight. And the kids that had him and he probably had a positive impact on their lives. What I remember most is his door was always open," says Mad Max.

"Mr. Eschbacher was a very kind hearted man. He always shared a smile with you when you passed in the hallway. He always made you feel like he cared," says Michaelyn Busch, 2014 PSHS graduate.

Eschbacher's temporary successor was appointed and it's someone who is no stranger to the high school or to the Wood County school system in general.

Tim McCartney served as Eschbacher's assistant until retiring this past school year.

McCartney will serve in that role until a permanent successor is named.

UPDATE 7/22/2014 4:20 PM

The principal of Parkersburg South High School will be remembered Tuesday night at a public memorial service.

Thomas Eschbacher passed away last Friday from brain cancer.

He was 51.

His memorial service begins Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the high school.

Meanwhile, Eschbacher's temporary successor has been appointed.

And it's someone who is no stranger to the high school or to the Wood County school system in general.

Tim McCartney served as Eschbacher's assistant until McCartney retired this past school year.

McCartney will serve in that role until a permanent successor is named.

UPDATE 7/18/2014 4:45 PM

A long time principal of Parkersburg South High School died early Friday morning.

Officials with Wood County Schools say Principal Tom Eschbacher died in the hospital at 1:30 Friday morning.

In 2008 we reported Eschbacher was battling a brain tumor.

After posting the news to our WTAP Television Facebook page, there were over 100 shares in less than an hour and dozens of comments from the South community, sharing their memories of the principal and condolences for his family.

In 2009 Eschbacher was named West Virginia Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

"Parkersburg South lost a dedicated administrator who loved Parkersburg South and loved the students," says Superintendent John Flint. "Tom was a tremendous leader. He had the ability to make a decision and follow through. He was good for students."

As the former athletic director at Parkersburg South Flint says he worked closely with Eschbacher and he will greatly miss him.

Officials with Wood County Schools say Parkersburg South High School Principal Tom Eschbacher died Friday morning.

We'll bring you more information as it becomes available.

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