KF vs. Hickory location changed

Published 9:06 pm Wednesday, September 9, 2009

This Friday night’s football game between King’s Fork and Hickory, originally scheduled to be played at King’s Fork High School, will now be played at Hickory High School in Chesapeake on Friday at 7 p.m.

The change was made due to concerns about the light poles at King’s Fork’s football stadium.

Last Thursday afternoon, a light pole at Norview High School’s football field in Norfolk collapsed and fell on empty bleachers. Norview’s current light poles were constructed by Whitco Co., a now-defunct company in Fort Worth, Tex. King’s Fork’s light poles are also from Whitco.

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Norview’s new football stadium, along with the new poles, opened in 2004, the same year King’s Fork High School, and the stadium, opened.

The day after the incident at Norview, King’s Fork had an inspection carried out by the structural engineers who worked on the high school design team.

King’s Fork’s activities director, Randy Jessee, said the high school knew about the potential problems with Whitco poles on Wednesday thanks to an alert issued by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. King’s Fork scheduled the inspection for Friday.

When the collapse happened at Norview on Thursday afternoon, it was a coincidence that it took place the day before King’s Fork already had the inspection lined up.

The initial inspection “didn’t show obvious stress, but additional tests to measure structural integrity and weld strength,” were scheduled for Tuesday said Bethanne Bradshaw, public information officer for Suffolk Public Schools, in a release. The engineers will make final recommendations to the school division.

The lighting system at King’s Fork “is not the exact design as Norview’s,” said Bradshaw.

At Norview, Norfolk officials took down the three remaining poles. Norview is likely to play its home games either at the opposing schools or during the day for the rest of this season.

King’s Fork is scheduled to play at Oscar Smith on Friday, Sept. 18. King’s Fork’s next home game is set for Sept. 25 against Indian River. Jessee said there’s no way to know currently if there will be a resolution in time for the Indian River game.

“They (the engineers) haven’t said anything is wrong, but they haven’t said everything’s okay yet, either,” said Jessee.

Assuming Sept. 25’s game goes on as scheduled, King’s Fork will play four home games this season. King’s Fork and Hickory are already scheduled to play at Hickory next season. That game will be switched, giving King’s Fork six home games in 2010.

“The bad part about it is the seniors lose a home game,” said Jessee. “We lose the gate, but this is still the best option.”