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The Beaufort County school board on Tuesday approved a plan to enhance the baseball stadium at Bluffton High School.'
The school district will pay $305,000 up front and the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry will repay the district $61,000 per year for five years.'
James Grimsley, a lawyer for the district, presented a memorandum at the school board meeting Tuesday outlining the plan for funding the enhanced stadium. The district will pay up front for the stadium improvements that include increasing the seating capacity from 250 to 1,000 and covering 400 of those seats, and expanding rest room and concession areas. '
The $305,000 "will come from the contingency fund for the Bluffton High School project," Superintendent Herman Gaither said.'
The district will sign an agreement with the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry that states that the foundation will reimburse the district $61,000 each year for five years, according to the memorandum.'
Bluffton Mayor Hank Johnston will sign an agreement with the foundation agreeing to raise the funds or allow the foundation to draw on a line of credit at Johnston's bank, the memorandum also states. '
"Mr. Johnston does not have to give his consent for the draw to be made," Grimsley said Tuesday.'
Johnston approached the district last year with a plan to expand to the stadium so it could be used for community events and possibly for a summer college baseball league in addition to high school baseball.'
Nine board members voted Tuesday to move ahead with plans to build the stadium, one was opposed and one abstained.'
Laura Bush, board member from Bluffton, voted in favor of building an expanded stadium.'
"It's a win-win for the community," Bush said, during the board's discussion of the stadium plan.'
"It's not just a baseball team that will use it. It's a multi-use facility, but the school has first dibs (on use of the stadium)," she said.'
Pam Edwards, board member from Hilton Head Island, abstained from the vote.'
"I abstained because I didn't see a contract in front of me that was signed by at least one person. I haven't seen a legal contract," she said after Tuesday's meeting.'
Richard Tritschler, board member from Lady's Island voted against the agreement.