TURLOCK -- Last week, Ed Felt stopped by Joe Debely Stadium to check out the latest work on the all-weather track and field at Turlock High School.
The Turlock Unified School District deputy superintendent looked at the scoreboard. Although the project didn't include a replacement, the school district's nutrition department sponsored painting and a new sign on the old one.
It looks really sharp, white lights behind a sign bearing the stadium's name, fresh black paint surrounding the score and stats. But something bothered Felt, and he couldn't figure out what it was. But it hit him over the weekend:
"They spelled it wrong."
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It was Joe Debley Stadium.
The error was caught and the sign went back to the manufacturer for replacement before Thursday's grand opening. The sign, and a delay in the delivery of restrooms, were the only glitches in the summerlong project to refurbish the decades-old stadium.
"We're ready," Felt said Monday, walking around the stadium as workers replaced light bulbs and finished work on the ticket booth. Turlock High football players practiced on the field for the first time that afternoon. The stadium will host its first game Friday when Pitman High School plays Modesto.
As for the restrooms, Felt said he hopes they are installed by Oct. 1. In the meantime, the district will bring in portable bathrooms to augment the stadium's old facilities.
Work on the $3.6 million project, funded with help from $2.8 million in city redevelopment money, got under way before school let out for the summer. Felt said he was confident the work would get done in time.
"The field has been ready for weeks and the track's ready, too," he said.
Even the garbage receptacles are new, provided by the Turlock Turf Crew, which has been raising money for sports fields at Turlock and Pitman high school.
"The last few weeks, we've just been tying up loose ends," Director of Facilities and Maintenance Scott Richardson said.
The project stirred some controversy from residents who thought it wasn't a good use of city money and from neighbors concerned about increased use at the stadium, nestled in a residential neighborhood in east Turlock. Most of that concern seems to have died away, and Felt said he went door to door last week to talk with neighbors and invite them to the grand opening event.
"Of the eight houses across the street, I made contact with people in seven of them, and none of them had anything negative to say," Felt said. "They were just concerned that dogs not be allowed on the track, because they like to come over here and walk."
Dogs aren't allowed, though the public is. Felt said officials hope to start opening the track for runners and joggers next week, from about 6 a.m. to when school starts and in the evenings after practices are finished.
Bee staff writer Patty Guerra can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2343.