July 12, 2024

H.A. Lynn Stadium lights to be replaced for $632K

Newton school board approves project to be paid for using SAVE funds

People will be singing bright lights big improvements at H.A. Lynn Stadium next year following the Newton school board’s decision on June 10 to approve a more than $632,000 bid to replace the old lighting system, which administrators say has been a “maintenance nightmare” the past few years.

Jack Suttek, the maintenance and grounds supervisor for Newton schools, said when the project was put out for bid only two contractors showed any interest: Van Maanen Electric, Inc. and Musco Sports Lighting. The district recommended the school board accept the $632,443 bid from Van Maanen.

“It’s a very exciting project,” Suttek said. “I probably haven’t been this excited since the new Berg (Middle School). This is going to be fantastic these new LED lights. Totally new. Light poles and all. The old structures will be gone. The new light towers on the visitors side will be in approximately the same spot.”

Meanwhile, the light poles on the home side of the field will be set back to the very corners of the stadium so as to not impede any vision. School board president Robyn Friedman asked Suttek what else makes him excited about the project. Suttek said, for starters, the district is going to be saving money.

“The energy savings is projected to be about $2,000 a year on energy savings,” Suttek said, also noting there will be maintenance savings. “Every year I’m spending $2,000 to $3,000, at least, on those old metal-halide lights … The most exciting thing for me is the capabilities we’re going to have.”

It’s going to be nice, he added. In fact, it’s going to be “dynamite.” Suttek said the lights will also be able to illuminate the back practice fields. From what Suttek saw in a presentation of the new lighting system, he expects it will blow people away at the very first football game of the 2024-2025 school year.

School board member Cody Muhs asked Suttek to clarify the bid process since two contractors were named but only one bid was presented to the board. Suttek explained that, yes, only one bid was received. He wanted a turnkey solution, and that is when Van Maanen stepped in. He spoke highly of the local business.

“Every time they’ve done a project with me it’s been awesome. The numbers that I was looking at compared to the numbers that Van Maanen turned in for the turn-key operation, I was very shocked,” Suttek said.

Muhs said obviously the school board does not move forward with a large project because of $4,000 to $5,000 a year in savings, so he asked Suttek to explain why the project was needed in the first place. Suttek said the district has been using metal-halide lights for many years and they are difficult to manage.

“I cringe going to a football game,” Suttek said.

School board member Donna Cook said, “Those are the ones that sprayed sparks over everybody last year.”

“With those old metal-halide lights, when you have an issue with them … you can’t even turn them back on for at least 15 minutes once they’re off. They have to cool way down. Like I said, the thing I’m most excited for is the capabilities we’re going to have for the light shows and things like that.”

The light replacement project financed through SAVE funds was approved in a 6-0 vote.

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.