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Casey Griffin wins free pass to STMA Conference in Stars and Stripes Contest

July 26, 2016

Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) – the professional organization for 2,600 men and women managing sports fields worldwide who are critical to the safety of athletes – announces Casey Griffin as the inaugural “Stars and Stripes” winner.

Griffin is the Director of Field Operations for the Albuquerque Isotopes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies. With his elegant field design, he has won a complimentary pass to the 28th annual STMA Conference & Exhibition, to be held at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL January 24-27, 2017.

In its first year, more than 20 contest entries were received via social media. The winner was selected through Facebook’s voting platform and Griffin’s intricate design at Isotopes Park generated nearly 500 “likes.”

“Casey is an industry trailblazer and is a great representation of the creativity by sports turf managers using natural grass athletic fields as their canvas,” says Kim Heck, CEO of STMA. “His expertise at Isotopes Park is visually appealing, while also providing a safe, playable surface for the professional athletes who utilize it.”

A native of Salem, OR Griffin has won several industry accolades including STMA’s 2013 “Field of the Year” award for professional baseball and Pacific Coast League’s 2014 “Sports Turf Manager of the Year.”

“STMA’s inaugural ‘Stars and Stripes’ contest is a unique opportunity to support our country through patriotic field designs,” says Griffin, now in his seventh season with the Isotopes. “We consider ourselves the ‘Directors of First Impressions’ for millions of sports fans across the U.S. and hope this contest inspires other industry colleagues to express themselves through unique paint and mowing patterns.”

Griffin’s winning submission will also be included in a future online issue of SportsTurf, STMA’s official monthly publication.

For more info:,, 800.323.3875.

About STMA

STMA is the not-for-profit, professional association for men and women who manage sports fields worldwide. Since 1981, the association and its 34 local chapters have been providing education, information and sharing practical knowledge in the art and science of sports field management. Its more than 2,600 members oversee sports fields and facilities at schools, colleges and universities, parks and recreational facilities, and professional sports stadiums.

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Unmanned aerial vehicle to estimate nitrogen status of turfgrasses

July 26, 2016

Spectral reflectance data originating from Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery is a valuable tool to monitor plant nutrition and reduce nitrogen (N) application to real needs, thus producing both economic and environmental benefits. Click here to learn how drones may affect the future of sports turf management by saving time, labor, and money, as well as helping to identify turf quality, color, N content, and other important information.

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Maryland SoccerPlex and Grass Roots partner on new interactive outdoor exhibit

July 26, 2016

The Maryland SoccerPlex in Boyds, MD and Grass Roots, a cooperative agreement between the United States Department of Agriculture and the National Turfgrass Federation, have partnered to create an interactive sport field and lawn exhibit at the Maryland SoccerPlex. The exhibit’s home is situated in front of the ticket booth on the south lawn of Maureen Hendricks Field (the SoccerPlex’s stadium field). It has been less than two months since the March start of the construction process and the exhibit has already begun to take shape.

“We are very excited to partner with Grass Roots and to have such an interactive and educational exhibit at the Maryland SoccerPlex,” said Maryland SoccerPlex Executive Director Trish Heffelfinger. “The exhibit will highlight new technologies in the turfgrass industry, and the effects of turfgrass and lawns on the environment.  It will also, hopefully, lead to further scientific breakthroughs.”

The first part of construction completed was the sports fields – four large beds that showcase Kentucky Bluegrass, Bermuda, a new type of Zoysia grass, Zeon, and Artificial Turf. The four turf grasses can be used in various projects depending on factors such as climate and type of usage. Of the four turfs, particular interest will focus on how Zeon holds up to high traffic and consistent usage, as is the case with Bermuda and Bluegass fields at the SoccerPlex. Based on results of the exhibit, Zeon could potentially be used for more sports fields. Later in the spring, an additional 12 cool and warm season turf types from around the country will be added at the bottom of the exhibit area.

The interactive outdoor exhibit is slated to have a grand opening in early September.  Prior to the official opening, other elements of the exhibit to be added include a kiosk featuring information on common turf diseases and pests, an irrigation systems exhibit, a history walkway and a rain garden.

“Collaborating with the Maryland SoccerPlex made sense on so many levels,” said Kevin Morris, president of the National Turfgrass Federation. “Right from the beginning Trish (Heffelfinger) offered to not only help with funding, but offered the expertise of SoccerPlex Director of Grounds Ryan Bjorn and his crew. We are just two months into the project and Trish, Ryan and his entire crew have gone above and beyond.”

Partners and Supporters of Grass Roots

Grass Roots is a cooperative initiative of the U.S. National Arboretum, USDA-ARS, and the National Turfgrass Federation, Inc. Grass Roots is grateful for the generous support from a wide range of organizations and businesses. Please contact Kevin Morris of the National Turfgrass Federation if you would like to help.

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The Toro Company elects Richard M. Olson Chief Executive Officer

July 26, 2016

The Toro Company announced that its board of directors has elected Richard M. Olson to the position of president and chief executive officer, effective November 1, 2016. Olson, a 30-year veteran of the company, has served as Toro’s president and chief operating officer since September 2015 and was elected to the company’s board of directors in January of this year. Toro’s current chairman and chief executive officer, Michael J. Hoffman, will continue to serve as chairman of the board.

Olson joined Toro in 1986 as a manufacturing process engineer. He has held various positions in operations and engineering including manager of advanced manufacturing, commercial engineering program manager, director of Shakopee plant operations, and managing director of northern manufacturing operations. In 2010, he was named general manager of Exmark and was appointed vice president, Exmark in 2012. The following year Olson was named vice president, international business before being elected group vice president, international business, micro-irrigation business and distributor development in June 2014.

Reflecting on the coming changes, Hoffman stated, “Serving our employees and customers as Toro’s chief executive officer has been the greatest privilege of my career. Our employees’ and channel partners’ passion for the business and relentless commitment to our company and brands have enabled us to accomplish much together. Looking forward, I am pleased and confident in passing the responsibilities of chief executive on to such a strong and tested leader as Rick Olson. His extensive experience, intelligence and commitment to our company’s core values make him an ideal candidate for his new role.”

Hoffman joined Toro in 1977 and served the company in various service, sales and marketing roles before holding a series of key executive positions across the company’s commercial and residential businesses. He was elected president in October 2004, chief executive officer in March 2005 and chairman of the board in March 2006. Hoffman has served on the board of directors of Donaldson Company, Inc., since 2005. Mike also currently serves on the board of overseers of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue the storied legacy of our great company that Mike and leaders before him like Ken Melrose and David Lilly helped build through the decades, making Toro all that it is today,” said Olson. “Like my predecessors, I will rely on the dedication and hard work of the entire Toro family. I look forward to working closely with our talented employees and channel partners to keep our company growing by delivering superior innovation and superior customer care.”

Olson holds a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial technology from Iowa State University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management. He serves on the boards of The Toro Foundation and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

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Good article on English Premier League groundsmen

July 19, 2016

Every football tournament has the occasional glitch. For Euro 2016, the poor quality of the pitches, especially in Lille, Marseille and Saint-Denis, has been a thorn in the side of the organisers. France manager Didier Deschamps was among the most vocal critics of the playing surfaces, expressing dismay over the decision to host an AC/DC concert at the Stade Vélodrome on the eve of the tournament. “Honestly, when I saw the photos and videos at the end of the concert, I thought I was in another world, but that’s the power of Highway to Hell.”

Tournament director Martin Kallen was no less scathing, saying: “The pitches should be better and we’re not happy. We have taken measures to preserve pitches but in a summer tournament you don’t expect it to rain so much.” Perhaps Kallen’s concern about the Wales players’ children coming on to the field to celebrate their quarter-final win over Belgium was more about protecting the Lille pitch than a desire to prevent the event descending into “a family party”.

France has experiences unusually wet weather before and during the tournament, but the UK has to deal with inclement conditions throughout the season and Premier League pitches do not cut up as badly as several of the surfaces have at Euro 2016. So, although the England team succumbed meekly to Iceland, the pitches on which they play every week are the envy of the continent.

The 2015-16 season was little short of an unmitigated disaster for Aston Villa, whose relegation was confirmed when they lost their eighth league game in a row at Old Trafford. There was not much to savour at the club this season but they did enjoy one triumph. Paul Mytton, the Villa Park grounds manager, picked up the Premier League Grounds Team of the Year award after fighting off stiff competition from Arsenal and, inevitably, Leicester City. The standard of pitches in English football has improved immeasurably over the last few decades and the competition to be named top grounds team is intense. Weekly marks for Premier League and Football League grounds are recorded by the Playing Surfaces Committee, which determines the end of year awards.

Long gone are the cloying, muddy pitches that lasted throughout the winter and were left scarred well into the spring, before developing bare patches on the hard, baked surfaces at the tail end of the season. In the 1980s, four clubs thought installing artificial turf would solve the problem of deteriorating surfaces. At the vanguard of this quartet were Queens Park Rangers, who installed an Omni-Turf surface in 1981 while managed by Terry Venables.

The first English professional match on an artificial pitch was played at Loftus Road in September 1981, when QPR hosted Luton Town, who went on to become the second English professional club with an all-weather surface in 1985. Preston North End and Oldham Athletic followed suit a year later, even though people objected to the style of football the pitches encouraged and the advantage these teams gained from using a surface that was unfamiliar to their opponents.

The “plastic revolution” did not last for long. QPR ripped up their pitch and returned to natural grass in 1988 and English football’s experiment ended on 18 May 1994, when Preston played Torquay United in the Third Division play-offs semi-final. The FA banned artificial pitches in 1995 and, despite significant developments in the technology – with the emergence of 3G and 4G pitches – that ban remains in place, even though England and Wales played Euro 2016 qualifying matches on artificial turf in Lithuania and Andorra, and the Women’s World Cup in 2015 was played exclusively on synthetic pitches.

Today’s grass pitches at the top level are rarely anything but pristine swards of green with barely a mark on them. They have improved due to horticultural and technological advances. It may have escaped the notice of most fans that there is an Institute of Groundsmanship, let alone that it was established as far back as 1934. The IOG chief executive, Geoff Webb, explains why pitches have improved radically. “The merging of artificial turf technology and the traditional turf sector means that 43 of the 44 clubs in Premier League and Championship now have a reinforced pitch, which is where artificial fibres are stitched into the pitch vertically, and then grass seed is oversewn, creating a condition that allows the grass plant to anchor to the fibre, creating a stable playing surface.” The choice of hybrid pitches has increased dramatically over the last few years “from a handful to well over 20 different types available today.”

“All the pitches have undersoil heating, as well as pop-up sprinklers,” adds Webb. “The vast majority have a high sand content, with up to 95%-to-5% sand-to-soil mix, which allows a free draining surface that is capable of dissipating heavy rainfall.” As a result, the number of games called off for waterlogged pitches in the top divisions has been reduced dramatically.

Significantly, the importance of good maintenance has been recognised by clubs. “More ground staff at senior level report directly to the board. If you look at new developments, such as Tottenham Hotspur, you will find the ground staff will now have a key input into the development of the new planned stadium. In the past, the last person to be consulted when a new stadium was planned would be the ground staff. The groundsman or woman now has to be a scientist, an engineer, a businessman, be media friendly and have a detailed knowledge of agronomy.”

How football clubs calculate the cost of buying players in the transfer market

The level of preparation and precision at the FA’s National Football Centre is impressive. The ground staff is headed up by Alan Ferguson, a Scot who was formerly greenkeeper at the the R&A golf club at St Andrews. The meticulousness extends to having a replica pitch at St. George’s Park, where England teams train, so the players can develop a feel for the Wembley turf. “We have our ‘little Wembley’, pitch six at St. George’s Park. The grass is cut to the same length, it’s deliberately prepared and cared for in the same way as the Wembley pitch so that the players can get used to the speed the ball will roll, the way it will bounce and the boots they need to wear.”

The IOG is also committed to improving grassroots facilities, which have been sadly neglected in the past. There are moves to establish a network of support across England. The Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme is a collaboration between various sporting governing bodies such as the FA, ECB, RFL and Sport England that aims to grade pitches and highlight those that need remedial attention. They also are looking to set up education and training for all levels of groundsmanship from volunteers to the leading professionals, which alongside the FA’s announcement of increased investment for natural turf at grassroots facilities should start to make a difference. The Pitch Improvement Programme was launched in March 2016 with an initial £8m commitment to help with more than 2,000 grass pitches across the country.

The football played in the Premier League may not match La Liga or the Bundesliga, but English pitches are at the very pinnacle, especially the one at Villa Park. By a strange twist of fate, the Parc de Princes pitch, which was acknowledged as one of the best at Euro 2016, was the responsibility of Northern Irishman Jonathan Calderwood, who just happens to be the former groundsman at Aston Villa.

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Utah Athletics checks projects off facilities wish list

July 19, 2016

Another podium, another speech, another shovel.

Spence Eccles, a former All-American skier-turned-Utah superbooster, has been to many of these groundbreakings now. His name rests on the Utes’ football stadium, on the football facility, the student life center, the tennis courts and soon a ski team building ccc the latest project that officially began construction Wednesday.

Along with a line of school administrators, coaches and other donors, he gently scooped out soil at the site where a $2.3 million building will rise in the coming year. But while the crowd wilted in the June heat, the 81-year-old’s enthusiasm was unyielding.

“All this behind us,” he said, gesturing to a mound of dirt beyond a fence, “has been to show that we’re not some Johnny-come-lately, we’re not some weak sister. Now, we’re really becoming a first-class program, with first-class facilities.”

Note: “becoming.” Because there are more shovels to set in.

Like a painting that’s never finished, a university’s facilities require constant appraisal and refurbishing. The Utes dialed up the stakes for their on-campus athletics facilities when they joined the Pac-12 in 2011, going against the likes of Stanford, Oregon and UCLA not only with on-court results, but whose supporting facilities is the most awe-striking.

The past five years has seen Utah cutting tape on football and basketball facilities; tennis courts; strength and conditioning centers; a softball stadium; and a track. And while the Utes feel they’re in many ways “now up to par” in the facilities arms race, there’s more ccc if less high-profile ccc projects ahead.

“There’s always something on the list,” athletic director Chris Hill said.

Ongoing projects include the ski team building and an additional football practice field. But Utes feel “solid” at the moment in their investment into football and basketball, and many of the items on the to-do list should give some other programs some love.

Baseball and golf are two of those that have continued to lag in the arms race. The baseball team that won the Pac-12 this spring often has to scoot out of Smith’s Ballpark right on the heels of games, all their gear in tow. And new golf coach Garrett Clegg says he’s planning weekly trips to St. George this winter to get his team the practice they need.

“In terms of some of these things you’d like to have, we probably need them yesterday,” Clegg said. “But it’s a gradual process. And we’re very early on.”

An on-campus baseball stadium would replace the Utes’ shared occupancy of Smith’s Ballpark with the Salt Lake Bees. The department has looked into plans that would expand Utah’s current practice field on Guardsman Way, next to the Salt Lake City Sports Complex, and add seating and other infrastructure similar to Utah’s softball field.

The biggest issue is land: This particular proposal would require the university to make a deal with the city to use a portion of Sunnyside Park. Hill said two months ago that he would like to shoot for the ballpark to be open by 2018 to help attendance and alleviate scheduling problems, but there are a lot of variables to overcome ccc donors, space, and planning ccc before the project can gain momentum at the university level.

Space is also a challenge for a proposed golf building: Clegg envisions access to hitting bays, video equipment and a film room, and an area to work on chipping and putting, ideally with at least 12,000 square feet of room. It likely would have to be built onto an existing golf course in the area.

Utah also hopes to have other improvements that benefit multiple sports: The Burbidge Academic Center where many athletes study and get tutoring support is in need of expansion and modernizing. Locker areas in the HPER, next to the new basketball facility, could be upgraded to help the Olympic sports housed there.

The athletic department is still on the hunt for the funding to get rolling, as athletics department projects are primarily pushed through by donors. The department will also be paying off bonds that helped fund the football and basketball facilities that opened in the past three years.

A project further down the line that could be time-sensitive is the south end zone building, an aging part of Rice-Eccles Stadium sitting in front of the $13.5 million video board and sound system that was recently installed.

Deputy athletic director Kyle Brennan, who presides over facilities projects, said the department is still deciding what to do with the space. Besides locker rooms and seating, there could be added space for recruiting areas, medical assistance and luxury options.

There’s also a spirited segment of the fanbase who would like to see the seating capacity (roughly 45,000) expand after 38 consecutive home sellouts. Coach Kyle Whittingham said himself that, if it makes financial sense for the university, he would like to see the department extend the building on either end to close out the lower bowl and perhaps boost the crowd.

For now, he isn’t being picky. On Friday, Utah football’s Twitter account posted a clip of Whittingham watching football highlights on the new 7,808-foot board while listening to his beloved AC/DC’s piercing chords, as he told the crew to “turn it up.”

It’s a nice setup, to be sure. But there’s always something to make a little better.

“The south end zone building would be the finishing touch for us, I think,” Whittingham said. “It’s an arms race in college athletics. Your stuff better be as good as the next guy’s.”- The Salt Lake Tribune

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Canopy expected to be signature of new Braves stadium

July 19, 2016

Yes, the Braves considered putting a retractable roof on their new stadium.

“I think it was a relatively brief conversation,” Derek Schiller, the team’s president of business, recalled.

After rejecting a roof for reasons of cost and baseball tradition, the Braves asked the architects of SunTrust Park for a design that “would have as many of our seats covered as possible, outside of having a roof,” Schiller said.

One result of that directive is easily noticed at the stadium construction site in Cobb County these days: The steel framework for a wide canopy hangs above the upper deck, protruding as much as 60 feet over what eventually will be rows of seats.

Whether protection from sun and rain will make many fans want to sit near the top of the ballpark remains to be seen. But the 108,000-square-foot canopy will provide the option, as well as an architectural element.

“It definitely is first and foremost a functional characteristic, but it’s been designed in such a way that it creates part of the look and feel,” Schiller said. “It is a signature design element.”

The canopy, supported by about 25 structural steel columns, will be different widths at different places — wider toward left field than toward right field. The top side of the canopy framework will be covered with metal, which appears light gray in some renderings, but according to Schiller, will be off-white. On the underside, an LED light strip will glow and provide the ability to change colors.

“When we win a game, perhaps the canopy turns a certain color,” Schiller said.

(Of course, for that feature to get much use, the Braves will have to improve on the field. The team has just nine wins in 36 home games this season, their last at Turner Field before next year’s move to SunTrust Park.)

A visitor to the new stadium this past week, Sun-Trust Banks corporate executive vice president Jenner Wood, a baseball fan who has been to 18 MLB stadiums, said the canopy reminds him a bit of the one at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.

“I think the canopy is more far-reaching here,” Wood said. “It’s going to provide a great sun cover and rain protection for a lot of people.”

Earl Santee, a founder and senior principal of Kansas City-based architecture firm Populous, which designed 19 of the 30 current MLB stadiums, said the Braves’ stadium will have “the largest canopy we’ve done or seen in major-league baseball.”

It isn’t nearly as extensive, though, as the massive canopy currently being installed atop the stadium of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins say that one will shade 92 percent of the fans.

The Braves’ canopy will be 80 feet wide at its widest point, with 20 feet of that covering the upper-level concourse and the remainder extending over rows of seats.

Santee, a lead designer of 41,500-seat SunTrust Park, estimated during a tour of the stadium last month that the canopy and the cantilevered seating sections throughout the stadium will combine to shade as many as 60 percent of the fans at afternoon games. The Braves typically play 18 to 20 home afternoon games per season, mostly on Sundays.

SunTrust Park’s cantilevering, another key element of the design, will push portions of the upper and middle decks closer to the field by overhanging the seats below them.

Santee said the 60-percent shade figure was based on computer analysis “and is actually a great number.”

(But from looking around the southeast-facing ballpark-in-progress on a sunny day last week, the computer’s figure might be high.)

“The ultimate width of the canopy was largely a function of the engineering parameters,” Schiller said. “An analysis was done to determine the maximum width we could do, but also have something that fit in with the look (of the stadium).”

Some early SunTrust Park season-ticket buyers have sought out seats with protection from the elements, Schiller said, although he added that the bigger drivers of seat selection remain “things such as ‘I want to be on the first-base side,’ ‘I want to be on the third-base side,’ ‘I want to be near the Braves dugout,’ ‘I want to be behind home plate’, ‘I want to be first-row upper level.'”

What Braves executives didn’t want, they decided early in their ballpark brainstorming, was a retractable roof.

“Early on, we discussed a facility that might include a roof, but there are a variety of reasons we didn’t go down that path,” Schiller said. “Some of it is cost. It is cost-prohibitive. But at the end of the day, the real reason is we believe baseball is an outdoor sport.

“I think our fans would prefer to be outside in the elements, albeit with as many of the amenities and protections and things like the canopy that we can make part of the design. … We all felt watching Braves baseball was better outdoors than indoors.”

SunTrust Park will cost $672 million, and by some estimates a retractable roof could have added $150 million, plus increased annual operating costs.

The Falcons’ new downtown stadium, also slated to open next year, will have a retractable roof, which team officials have said they intend to keep open for as many games as practicable. That roof was a necessity because Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be used for many indoor events, including college basketball’s Final Four in 2020.- The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Concussion law would mandate safety courses

July 19, 2016

The Erie County (NY) Legislature is poised to approve a new law that will make concussion safety courses mandatory for all coaches of youth sports in Erie County. The law, which would take effect immediately, is expected to pass overwhelmingly just as schools are letting out and summer youth sports move into full swing.

Meanwhile, the Legislature also is slated to adopt the final component of County Executive Mark Poloncarz’s lead prevention initiative, which would involve hiring more county employees to nearly double the number of environmental health inspections the county does now and improve services to children with high lead levels in their blood.

The concussion training law would fine youth sports organizations $100 to $200 if they cannot produce records showing that all of their coaches have taken concussion safety courses either in person, through their sports organizations, or online. The requirement would primarily affect smaller, independent youth organizations that engage in contact sports.

The proposal requires that coaches of any “contact or collision sports” take a free concussion safety program offered by the County Health Department or online through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s HEADS UP to Youth Sports.

“The state already mandates the coaches of public schools have this training,” said Legislator Patrick Burke, D-Buffalo, who co-sponsored the law along with Majority Leader Joseph Lorigo, C-West Seneca. “It just seems crazy to me that not everyone is mandated to have this concussion training.”

Though the new law would take effect immediately, Burke said he expects the county will give sports organizations a grace period prior to enforcement of the new requirements.

The Legislature also:

  • Is expected to adopt the final piece of the five-year, $3.75 million lead poisoning prevention plan: hiring of five additional home inspectors, a nurse to follow up on child lead poisoning cases, a supervisor and a clerk. The county plans to advertise the new positions immediately, said Poloncarz spokesman Peter Anderson.

These jobs were held up by the Legislature until the county was recently awarded a $3.4 million grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to offset the program costs.

Erie County has one of the highest rates of childhood lead poisoning in the state, according to data from the CDC.

The Legislature also:

  • Will decide whether to approve Erie Community College’s $108.5 million budget for next school year, which raises student tuition by 3 percent, hikes student technology fees, and cuts 50 vacant positions.
  • Will vote on the recommendations of the Erie County Charter Revision Commission, including lengthening Legislature terms from two to four years and making it easier for elected officials to get raises after an intervening election.- The Buffalo News (New York)

Sandra Tan; News Staff Reporter

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Sports field How-To videos wanted!

July 12, 2016

STMA is seeking educational videos that demonstrate maintenance practices for sports fields. The goal is to develop a collection of three-to-eight-minute educational videos focused on sports field how-to’s that STMA members can use to improve their operations. Topics can include anything related to sports turf management, such as:

– How to calibrate a sprayer or spreader

– How to edge an infield

– How to paint a logo

– How to repair equipment or irrigation

Making the video can be easy. Determine your topic and collect the equipment you need to effectively explain the management practice you are demonstrating. Using a phone or other recording device, record the video and send it to STMA via email or Dropbox.

The STMA Information Outreach Committee will thoroughly review your video. Remember, the goal of these videos is to enhance the education of Sports Turf Managers. STMA will be promoting your video and expects you to provide professional, applicable educational content. STMA reserves the right to decline or remove any video it feels is inappropriate.

To learn more about how to create and submit a video, visit STMA’s Knowledge Center – Videos and Webinars.

Categories: test feeds

Composition of artificial turf surfaces key to preventing HS football injuries

July 12, 2016

As artificial turf systems are increasingly used at all levels, new research is needed to understand how these surfaces can impact athlete safety. A study presented at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Colorado Springs, CO, shows how the infill weight of artificial turf surfaces can directly affect the number of injuries to high school football players.

The study, which is the first to directly compare football injuries as they relate to infill weight, and led by Michael Clinton Meyers, PhD, from Idaho State University in Pocatello, ID, was awarded the AOSSM’s first-annual STOP Sports Injuries award. This award recognizes top research in the prevention of traumatic and overuse injuries in youth sports.

“Our research showed that as the artificial infill surface weight decreased, the incidence of game-related high school football trauma significantly increased,” noted Meyers. “This trend was consistent across numerous changes in playing conditions as well.”

The research included a total of 52 high schools participating across four states, with injuries evaluated over five competitive seasons (2010-14). Infill systems consisted of sand and/or rubber, and were divided into four categories based on pounds per square foot. The injury totals were significantly lower when infill rates were at a level greater than 9 pounds per square foot.

“Based on our findings, we would recommend that high school football fields contain a minimum of 6.0 pounds per square foot of infill weight to optimize player safety on artificial surfaces,” Meyers commented. “With the amount of athletes playing football, and the setbacks associated with injuries, we hope this research will help decrease these numbers and make football safer for young athletes.”

Researchers noted these conclusions warrant further investigation, and cannot be generalized to other levels of competition beyond those included in the study.


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Applying for STMA Field of the Year Award?

July 12, 2016

If your field hosts a Summer sport, 3 PCIs are REQUIRED now.

If you are submitting a Field of the Year application (Oct. 15 deadline) do not forget to complete the PCI. Four separate PCI worksheets are required; three must be conducted in the season of the field’s primary sport, and one must be conducted in the off-season.

Photos are also required from ALL seasons, so get out your camera. Click here for the full application which has all of the instructions at the beginning in pages 1-4.

Winning a field of the year award validates your field management skills and expertise to your employer, your peers and the industry. All winning fields will be included in an issue of SportsTurf Magazine. The field manager will also receive a plaque, signature clothing, a complimentary registration to the STMA annual conference, recognition during its annual awards banquet and three night’s lodging.

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The Synergy of Science and Industry: Biochar’s Connection to Ecology, Soil, Food, and Energy

July 12, 2016

The US Biochar Initiative, and Conference Chair Tom Miles, are pleased to announce the upcoming conference, Biochar 2016, The Synergy of Science and Industry: Biochar’s Connection to Ecology, Soil, Food, and Energy. The conference will be held at Oregon State University’s CH2M Hill Alumni Center August 22nd-25th, 2016.

The conference aims to bring together stakeholders in the applied biochar research community and the private sector to further biochar market development. This event is designed for farmers, foresters, policy makers, biochar producers, industry professionals and entrepreneurs. Students and interested citizens will also benefit from this event.

For more information, or to register for the event, please see Student, Non-profit, and one-day rates are available. Early bird registration closes on July 15th!

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Does the STMA have your correct contact information?

July 5, 2016

STMA will be publishing its Membership Directory next month and encourages you to review your information and update it, if necessary, to ensure its accuracy. Changes to your information need to be completed no later than Friday July 8th. Login at and click on My Information. If you have questions or problems updating your information, please feel free to email us at

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STMA’s “Stars and Stripes” Contest

July 5, 2016

To celebrate our nation’s birthday, join us and share an image of your field as you highlight your stars and stripes. Enter this year for a chance to win a complimentary pass to the 2017 STMA Annual Conference this January in Orlando.

How it works: Simply upload a photo of YOUR best 4th of July field art design or mowing pattern, share it and see how many votes you get! Deadline to enter via Facebook is Friday, July 8 at 12 a.m. EST. The winning design and its turf manager will be announced Friday, July 15 and included in a future issue of SportsTurf, STMA’s official monthly publication.

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Sports turf management part of GIE+EXPO 2016

July 5, 2016

Sports turf professionals will have new education opportunities at GIE+EXPO 2016 (Green Industry & Equipment Expo). The Golf and Sports Turf Management Conference, hosted by the Kentucky Turfgrass Council, will take place Thursday and Friday, October 20-21 at the Kentucky Exposition Center during the annual tradeshow. GIE+EXPO draws more than 18,000 participants to see the latest innovations and attend first-rate education programs.

Thursday’s programs will offer golf sessions in the morning and sports turf sessions in the afternoon, allowing attendees to spend half day in education and half day visiting the trade show. A combined general session is set for Friday morning.

“Our 750 exhibits – indoors and out – include turf management equipment, lawn and garden products, light construction equipment and UTVs, so it’s a natural fit for golf course superintendents and sports turf professionals,” said Warren Sellers, show director. “With the addition of the conference, GIE+EXPO is their one-stop shop for new products and education.”

Golf Sessions

Thursday, October 20

8:30 AM – NOON


Moderator: Pat Jones, Publisher & Editorial Director, GIE Media


The Story of Oakmont Country Club’s Restoration and Hosting USGA Championships

John Zimmers, Golf Course Superintendent, Oakmont Country Club

Learn about the restoration of Oakmont Country Club, which hosted its record ninth U.S. Open in 2016, to its original Henry Fownes design. John Zimmers will discuss the restoration of bunkers and ditches in addition to other original architectural features of the golf course. He will also cover the removal of approximately 15,000 trees, as well as topics regarding the hosting of USGA Championships.


Effective Water Management for Agronomic Programs

Sam Green, Chief Operating Officer, Aqua Aid Incorporated

Sam Green will provide valuable insights on methods and technologies available to enhance water efficiency, which can lead to a reduction of usage and better conservation and protection of a valuable, essential resource.


Evolution of a Golf Course: A Superintendent’s Perspective

Jeff Corcoran, Manager of Golf Courses and Grounds, Oak Hill Country Club

Jeff Corcoran will discuss the evolution of Oak Hill Country Club’s Donald Ross designed East Course and the architectural changes that have been made through the years. He will also detail how those changes influenced the current long-range planning and future championships planned at Oak Hill.



Sports Turf Sessions

Thursday, October 20

1:30 – 5 PM


The Principals of Sports Turf Management Planning and Drainage

Marcus Dean, Sports Turf Manager at University of Kentucky

Marcus Dean will discuss the processes for developing a useful maintenance plan that can be applied to either cool or warm grasses. He will cover weed and disease strategies, aerification, drainage and budgeting. While the focus will be on native soil fields, Marcus will also offer some of the major differences in fields constructed with native soils vs. a sand-based root zone.


Sports Turf Applications for Plant Growth Retardants and Weed Control Options

Dr. Wesley Totten, Chair Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources, University of Tennessee at Martin

Dr. Wesley Totten will cover the history of usage in turf, including sports turf.  He will discuss the types and classifications of plant growth retardants, the current usage of plant growth regulators in sports turf situations and current weed control options, including timings and frequencies.


Sports Turf Panel: All Things Baseball – The Maintenance of Baseball/Softball Fields for Skinned and Turf Areas


Tom Nielsen, Head Groundskeeper, Louisville Bats Baseball Club

Thomas Trotter, Head Groundskeeper, Nashville Sounds Baseball Club

Jake Tyler, Turf Manager, Toldeo Mud Hens

Each panel member will open with a brief discussion highlighting one maintenance task that all sports turf managers face. Topics will include repairing the mounds and home plate; fertility and repair of the turf areas; and grooming and maintenance of the skinned areas. After addressing questions on these topics, the panel will expand on other critical issues, such as turf areas, fertility, weed control, construction of mounds, skinned areas and warning track. They will also address qualities they look for in employees, budgeting and management of staff.



General Session

Friday, October 21

9 – 11 AM


World of Turf…Turf Managers Around the World Have Many Tools in Their Toolbox to Build their Agronomic Programs

Sam Green, Chief Operating Officer, Aqua Aid Incorporated

This session will provide a whirlwind tour from all areas of the world with examples of different approaches to the management of turf. From equipment and staffing to problem solving, Sam Green will discuss a multitude of diverse problems and issues and share the unique and creative solutions used to solve them.


Groundskeeping Abroad and Making Events Work on Fields at All Levels

Luke Yoder, National Sports Field Specialist for Ewing

Luke Yoder will discuss his experiences working on professional fields in Korea, Sweden and the Dominican Republic.  These experiences include new field construction, field renovation and teaching best maintenance practices working with what they have. The discussion will also include tips and methods for hosting up to 100 events per year while still maintaining a field up to MLB standards for 81 home games.


Pre-registration is required for the Golf and Sports Turf Management sessions. The fee for each Thursday session is $99. Friday’s session is $89. Registration for GIE+EXPO is $15 by September 8; $30 September 9 – October 16 and $60 thereafter. For information or to Other contact points:,Twitter @GIE_EXPO and 800-558-8767/812-949-9200..


GIE+EXPO is sponsored by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute, Inc. (OPEI), Professional Grounds Management Society (PGMS) and National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).





Speaker Bios


Jeff Corcoran, Manager of Golf Courses and Grounds, Oak Hill Country Club

Jeff has spent most of his 20-year career at Oak Hill Country Club where he is currently Manager of Golf Courses and Grounds. While there, he has had the opportunity to help host the Ryder Cup, U.S. Amateur, Senior PGA and PGA Championship. He also spent three years as Superintendent at Boston’s Weston Golf Club. Jeff has a degree in Turfgrass Science from Penn State University.


Marcus Dean, Sports Turf Manager, University of Kentucky

Marcus has been part of the sports turf team at the University of Kentucky since 2003. The UK graduate has a degree in PLS with an emphasis in Turfgrass Management and is a Certified Sports Field Manager. Prior returning to UK, he was Assistant Playing Surfaces Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.  Marcus has spoken at local, regional and national sports turf conferences and served as president of the Kentucky Turfgrass Council in 2011-12. He was awarded the KTC “Man of the Year” in 2014.


Sam Green, Chief Operating Officer, Aqua Aid Incorporated

Sam has spent most of his career as a superintendent, most recently for Eagle Point Golf Club in Wilmington, NC. Eagle Point was ranked in Golf Digest as a Top 100 course three consecutive times during his tenure. He is now Chief Operating Officer for Aqua Aid Incorporated, the parent company of Aqua Aid wetting agents, Verde Cal calcium and Potassium products, Worm Power Turf extract, and the North American importer for Campey Imants equipment lineup.  With a degree in Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences from Virginia Tech University, Sam has 27 years of experience in the turf industry.


Pat Jones, Publisher & Editorial Director, GIE Media

For three decades, Pat Jones has been known for his insights into the golf and turf business and his candid,tell-it-like-it-is approach.  As publisher and editorial director of GIE Media’s Golf Course Industry magazine, Pat runs the industry’s leading independent publication. He is a prolific writer, blogger and social media commentator and a frequent presenter at regional, national and international turf conferences. Pat began his career in the industry at GCSAA headquarters. He later created and launched Golfdom magazine before starting his own company, Flagstick LLC, to provide consulting services to golf/turf companies and organizations. He joined GIE Media full-time in 2010 and is a member of the company’s executive team.


Tom Nielsen, Head Groundskeeper, Louisville Bats Baseball Club

Tom has been the Head Groundskeeper for the Louisville Bats Baseball Club for 17 years. In addition to his baseball duties at Slugger Field, he is responsible for converting the field, which serves as the home venue for the Louisville City Football Club, into a soccer pitch 15-19 times per year. Tom has been in sports turf management for over 25 years, also working with the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers, Florida Marlins, Kansas City Royals, Eugene Emeralds and Chattanooga Lookouts. Tom holds a degree in Horticulture Production and received the George Toma “Golden Rake” Award in 2011.


Dr. Wesley Totten, Chair Department of Agriculture, Geosciences, and Natural Resources, University of Tennessee at Martin

Dr. Totten earned a B.S. is Agronomy and Soils and an M.S. in Horticulture from Auburn University, as well as a Doctorate in Plant and Environmental Sciences from Clemson University. He has been an Associate Professor of Golf Course and Landscape Management at the University of Tennessee at Martin since 2007 and recently became chair of the Department of Agriculture, Geosciences and Natural Resources.


Thomas Trotter, Head Groundskeeper, Nashville Sounds Baseball Club

Thomas is responsible for the maintenance and management of Nashville Sounds’ playing field and landscaping around the stadium. Under his stewardship, the field at Greer Stadium was honored as the recipient of the 2011 Professional Field of the Year Award by the Tennessee Turfgrass Association. Prior to his move to Nashville, he worked for the Louisville Bats Baseball Club and San Diego Padres. Thomas is a graduate of Clemson University.


Jake Tyler, Turf Manager, Toldeo Mud Hens

Originally from Jackson, TN, Jake started his baseball career with the West TN Diamond Jaxx (Cubs AA farm club), becoming the Head Groundskeeper at age 17. Following a stint at Louisville’s Slugger Field he worked for the AA Mets ballpark in Binghamton, NY, before his move to Toledo where he maintains 5/3rd Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens, the AAA affiliate of the Detroit Tigers.


Luke Yoder, National Sports Field Specialist for Ewing

As a national sports field specialist, Luke works closely with Ewing’s nationwide team of sports field specialists in delivering products, support, service and education to sports turf managers at all levels. Prior to joining Ewing, Luke spent time at PNC Park in Pittsburgh and San Diego’s Petco Park, where he hosted more than 100 events annually on the field. He has also worked with sports fields around the world. With a degree in Horticulture Turfgrass Management from Clemson University, Sam regularly consults on sports turf management nationally and internationally.


John Zimmers, Golf Course Superintendent, Oakmont Country Club

A graduate of the Professional Turf Management Program at Rutgers University, John’s 23-year career has included superintendent positions where he managed renovation projects in preparation for prestigious championships. He joined the team at Oakmont Country Club in 1999 where he managed a major construction project to restore the course to its original Fownes’ design and has hosted the 2003 U.S. Amateur, the 2007 U.S. Open, the 2010 Women’s U.S. Open and the 2016 U.S. Open. John was Superintendent of the Year in 2007 and was named one of the top 10 superintendents in the world in 2005.

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Funding a scoreboard with ad revenue

July 5, 2016

Money collected from businesses and organizations interested in advertising on North Allegheny School District property would cover the almost $500,000 cost of a new electronic scoreboard at Newman Stadium, according to a proposal before the school board.

If approved, Wright Automotive would pay the district $100,000 during 10 years for an ad on the secondary scoreboard in the high school gymnasium, where basketball, volleyball and wrestling are held.

Wright would pay $100,000 during 10 years for naming rights for the football field at Newman Stadium, which draws an average of 7,000 fans per game, according to Athletic Director Bob Bozzuto.

Monte Cello’s Italian Restaurant, which has four locations in the North Hills, would pay $70,000 over a decade to be the “official pizza” of North Allegheny athletics and for the Monte Cello Red Zone announcement during games.

The school board is to meet Wednesday. Other companies in the proposal seeking to advertise in the stadium are:

– University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, eight-year deal worth $48,000.

– Tri-State Orthopedics, eight years, $44,000.

– Shaw Sports Turf, eight years, $40,000.

– Eastbay, four years, $25,000.

– North Allegheny Basketball Association, one year, $5,000.

The North Allegheny Hall of Fame plans to donate $40,000 over eight years to help cover the cost of the new scoreboard, Bozzuto said, adding that he is working on agreements with several other organizations that are interested in advertising in the district.

“One of our goals has been to get more business and organizations to help support things like the purchase of a new scoreboard, so we don’t always have to rely on tax dollars,” Bozzuto said. “Allowing them to advertise helps us achieve our goals while showcasing the organizations that support us.”

Revenue from the advertising would cover the $472,000 cost to install a 50-foot high scoreboard that has a 26-foot wide video board for electronic media presentations, the athletic director said.

“I think it will really be a great communications tool to showcase the district,” he said.

The school board on Wednesday also could accept a $7,594 donation from Baierl Automotive Group to install 24-inch-tall illuminated letters on the district’s activity and athletic canter that bears the company’s name.

Newman Stadium is in the midst of nearly $973,000 worth of renovations that include new turf and a running track, a remodeled press box, a new public address system and a new entrance way, which is being paid for with a $40,000 donation from booster groups.

Work at the stadium, including installation of the new scoreboard, is expected to be completed by the start of the fall sports season.- Pittsburgh Tribune Review

by Tony LaRussa

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Custom turf transforms ice rink into soccer field

June 30, 2016

Rico Carter warmed up for a game of indoor soccer on the artificial turf that converted a hockey rink into a soccer field at the east end of Cool Sports in West Knoxville.

“It’s nice,” Carter said of the turf. “I like it.”

His was one of 10 teams that turned out last Friday and Saturday to play a debut soccer “turf”nament event.

The custom turf was specially formulated for the facility, which has the only field like it in the country, according to Jesse Smithey, a representative of Knoxville-based Playrite Sport Surfaces, which installed the turf.

It’s made of nylon, which gives it added strength, and simulates the feel of natural turf, Smithey said. An extra layer of foam padding provides protection from falls and adds to the natural feel. It doesn’t have rubber infill pellets, which have been controversial in other synthetic products.

“The length of the blades and padding contribute to the ball moving at an actual soccer game speed, like on natural grass,” Smithey explained. “Older turfs get matted down, and it’s like trying to play soccer on concrete. This has a natural friction, which is good.”

The turfnament, sponsored by local businesses including Greening Home Services, Kenney Sharpening, Restaurant Linderhof and Subway, will benefit the Tennessee Chapter of the Crohn’s Colitis Foundation of America. That charity was chosen “because I was diagnosed 10 years ago with Crohn’s,” said Scott Corwin, Cool Sports’ assistant turf director. “But it’s pretty manageable now.”

Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are broad categories of irritable bowel disease, both immune system malfunctions of the digestive tract that are life interrupting at their worst and chronically painful but manageable otherwise. Research is promising for the one of every 200 Americans suffering with the diseases.

The foundation “has been so easy to work with,” said Corwin, “And every cent we raise goes straight to research.”

Corwin was proud to show off the new 15,000-square-foot field that is now home for youth and adult soccer, a youth lacrosse league and flag football.

He grew up in Lenoir City, coming into the Knox County facility to play soccer throughout his youth, and has always enjoyed working with children. He was hired by the company about a year ago, along with turf director Joanna Steinmetz to revitalize the indoor sports programs that are not played on the ice.

The facility has programs for all ages, from “Soccer Tots” that start as young as 2 years old, all the way through adult leagues, which are forming now. There is a smaller field for children, as well as the 180-foot by 80-foot main field. Parents and adult fans can also enjoy Basil’s Sports Bar, overlooking the main field, which serves beer and soft drinks

Many patrons may be unaware that Cool Sports has offerings beyond their better-known Icearium. Corwin expects that to change.

“Yeah, the ice side gets all the love right now,” he said, smiling. “But we’re going to catch up.”- Knoxville News-Sentinel (Tennessee)

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High-tech grass helping shape Euro 2016

June 30, 2016

High-tech turf that combines real grass with synthetic microfibers and cork is helping reduce injuries and keep pitches playable during the heavy rainfall that has marked the European Championships in France this month.

Heavy rain at the start of the championships made it hard for newly laid grass at stadiums in Lille and Marseille to take root, leading to problems during matches.

However, four out of the 10 pitches taking part in the tournament – Lyon, Saint-Etienne, Bordeaux and Toulouse – have been laid with high-tech grass, known as AirFibr, and are performing very well.

The technology is one of a number of innovations that are improving the experience of fans, players and European businesses during the four-yearly competition.

AirFibr is made of normal grass, except the roots are embedded in synthetic fibers rather than soil, while extra-fine silica sand allows drainage without getting muddy so the pitch never gets flooded or dried out.

The radical new turf, which is also being used at the Arsenal training center in the UK and by Real Madrid in Spain, is much easier on players’ ankles and knees than normal earth.

Compressed cork is used as an organic shock absorber, so that as players run, the air is squeezed out of the cork, cushioning the impact before springing back into shape so the terrain never degrades.

Tests conducted by Natural Grass, the company behind AirFibr, have shown it has a big impact on in-game injuries.

40 %

‘When people perform sports on AirFibr the soil is able to absorb the energy of the shock and hence protect the athletes,’ said Dr. Sylvain Massip, coordinator of the ScalinGreen project that is using EU funds to help the company scale up AirFibr.

To confirm their design, the team conducted tests with players, noting the force applied as they performed various maneuvers on the pitch, and found they received 40 % less impact on their body when playing on the grass.

The technology also enables grass to be durable enough for both football and rugby games to be played on the same pitch.

‘That’s obviously very interesting for everybody because building and maintaining a second stadium when you have a second team is very costly,’ explained Dr Massip.

Another innovation that’s helping European sports businesses to become more competitive is enabling pitch-side adverts to be digitally replaced by TV camera technology, allowing them to be targeted by region.

‘The viewer on the screen at the end really knows no different but the messaging that is being delivered is much more relevant,’ said Charlie Marshall, chief operating officer of Supponor, the company developing the technology.

Local products

To ensure all sponsors enjoy an equal level of exposure, the technology, known as DBRLive, digitally renders advertisements across any board captured on camera. This technology can also allow boards to advertise products for specific local, national or regional audiences in real time.

‘Advertisers or sponsors who would be out of their budget and out of their scope to strike global deals with Barcelona FC, can still associate themselves with Barcelona by having 10 minutes of inventory on the pitch perimeter targeted at particular audiences,’ said Marshall.

It works by adding a component to TV cameras that can split different light sources, visible and invisible infrared light. The infrared light can be picked up by special detectors and the data used to make the technology work.

The camera uses the technology to detect advertising boards that have different light properties to their surrounding environment. These boards can later be digitally replaced by virtual advertisements using Supponor’s technology.

This sometimes means placing a transparent film onto the board that can absorb and emit the required infrared light, while at other times existing electronics in the boards are adapted to create the same effect.

The technology has been in use in the Spanish La Liga football first division for a number of years, and now the company is aiming to launch their technology for other high-profile tournaments helped by an EU-funded scaling-up project, also called DBRLive, in order to eventually become the de facto means of delivering signage for these types of events, says Marshall.


During major matches like those happening across France this summer, thousands of supporters often fill every seat available in stadiums. With so many people in such a confined space, safety is a priority for organizers. The eVACUATE project is ushering in new technologies to improve evacuations at the individual, group, and crowd level.

‘In principle we are dealing with several domains,’ said project coordinator Dr Dimitris Petrantonakis of the National Technical University of Athens, Greece.

The project is conducting in-depth analysis into crowd psychology to model how crowds react during an emergency, thus preventing bottlenecks and other problems encountered during evacuations.

‘There is a very direct impact in the way the people around us are (behaving) during a crisis,’ said Dr Petrantonakis. ‘If there is a group of people that is trying to exit a stadium from a specific location, we have seen that this affects the behavior and the way the rest of the people are also reacting.’

This leads to a situation whereby people follow a crowd on blind faith, thinking they know where the exit is, leading to bottlenecks and potentially a highly delayed evacuation.

Instead, eVACUATE is developing tools to thin out crowd evacuations and put control into individuals’ hands.

This involves installing cameras with better imaging to see through smoke or sourcing information from social media to give evacuators real-time information on developments.

The team is also developing an app to provide people with their specific location and directions to the nearest safe location.

Even ‘static information’ is being re-examined. As Dr Petrantonakis explains, standard exit signs can be adapted to provide more dynamic information. Instead of having regular green exit signs, they could flash red to indicate that an obstacle is ahead, or airport departure screens can broadcast evacuation protocols.

Finally the project is looking at chips that can be embedded onto tickets to help account for people who have been evacuated.

‘It’s a variety of different systems that we’re trying to exploit and all this to be merged under a unique umbrella which is the one eVACUATE has been (developing),’ said Dr Petrantonakis.

The project is now focusing on putting their research to the test with a full demo exercise in September. Based at San Sebastian, Spain, the project will use volunteers to recreate an evacuation procedure and see if their technology can provide an integrated – and someday life-saving – solution.

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West Virginia schools helping peers with flood damage

June 30, 2016

It didn’t take long for the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission to become involved in relief efforts following last week’s flooding that devastated several communities in the central and southern regions of the state.

“Shawn Krajeski from Clay County called me on Friday and said, Bill, we are in bad shape here. We lost everything,’ SSAC communication, technology and event coordinator Bill Gillispie said Monday.

“I thought, with my ability to put it out there we might be able to help out, but let’s not just limit it to one school, Gillispie said.

Gillispie, the former athletic director at Charleston Catholic, oversees the SSAC’s social media presence and facilitates the flow of information between the SSAC and its member schools. In this case, he has found himself opening the lines of communication between those schools themselves.

“We put it on Twitter first, then Facebook, he said. “We got such a response back from member schools it’s been amazing. The outpouring of support we’ve got has overwhelmed me.

The SSAC home office itself will act as what Gillispie called a “staging ground by the end of the week.

There, schools will be able donate equipment and supplies to those schools in need as a result of the flooding. From there, it will be dispersed to those aforementioned schools.

While facilitating activity between member schools, the SSAC is also working with its corporate sponsors in attempt to alleviate some of the financial burden from athletic programs in their attempts to rebuild. SSAC executive director Bernie Dolan said Monday that while direct financial aid given by the SSAC to member schools is not currently a possibility, the governing body is working diligently to broker deals with athletic suppliers such as Zide’s Sporting Goods to reduce costs to schools and their support systems.

“They’re a big dealer and one of our corporate sponsors, Dolan said of Zide’s, which is based in Marietta, Ohio.

“By the time I got to them [Sunday] they’d already been in contact with some of the schools. They do a lot of reconditioning of equipment for a lot of teams, Dolan said. “We’re working with some of the suppliers to see what they can do to help us out. Maybe [they can offer] a special purchase for those who have lost, or that kind of thing.

Several schools have expressed concern that they might have to cancel their fall athletic schedules because of the losses they sustained. Richwood’s athletic fields were completely lost to the flooding while Herbert Hoover’s football field was covered in water and the first floor of the school itself was Sunday night called by principal Mike Kelley “almost a total loss. Because of these factors, Hoover and athletic programs at other schools are looking at far more than just having to replace football equipment.

“If you lose your gym to it, with a wood floor it’s going to warp, Dolan said. “That can be refinished or probably have to be replaced.

Dolan and Gillispie noted that it is still too early to assess all the damage and determine exactly what each school needs.

“If it was at a central location that lost everything, chances are you have an inventory at the end of each season that you can just pull from for that information, Dolan said, adding that while that would be the most efficient way to determine need, it is also not very likely that all affected schools have such lists available, and that those that do might have lost that information in the flooding itself.

“You have to sort out what was lost in damage and what was beyond repair, Dolan said. “They’ll have some challenges just getting that together.

By midday on Monday numerous schools had contacted Gillispie with specific lists of equipment they could offer.

“Coach [Luke] Salmons at [Cabell] Midland said they have enough stuff to outfit a whole team. There’s a middle school in Jefferson County – Wildwood Middle – that is a feeder into Jefferson – and their athletic director, David Viands, called and said they can donate 30 helmets, Gillispie said.

“Now, that might not be much help to a high school but to a place like Elkview Middle, that could be a lot of help, Gillispie said.

Ravenswood High already has donated 20 sets of practice uniforms, and Gillispie said that he spoke to officials at Doddridge County High on Monday morning who said the Bulldogs program can outfit 15-22 players.

South Charleston’s football team, led by coach Donnie Mays, travelled to Clendenin on Monday to assist in flood cleanup there. Other efforts include a plan from Huntington High to take its football players to Richwood and assist with cleanup efforts Thursday.

“For Huntington to be able to do that, that’s huge, Gillispie said. “It is a fraternity of programs. All coaches know how it would affect them. They want to help.

Gillispie also highlighted the fundraising efforts of programs like the Winfield basketball program, which donated $4,000 from a fundraising car wash it operated over the weekend, as a significant help. Hurricane’s cross-country program is donating the proceeds from its annual Great Teays 5K in July to help in flood relief.- Charleston Gazette-Mail

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Survey shows only 3% of college grads would consider careers in Ag

June 30, 2016

Not only has there been a decrease in young people interested in the turfgrass industry, but the entire agriculture industry is feeling the effects of reduced college graduates entering agricultural careers. USDA job reports found that 20,000 agriculture jobs go unfilled each year. Click here to learn more about the misperceptions associated with agriculture careers and possible solutions to attract young people to the field.

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