Pulaski County Schools
The weather didn’t want to fully cooperate, but that didn’t stop Pulaski County Public Schools and many gathered guests from dedicating the new baseball field at Pulaski County Middle School in honor of Michael Barbour, a long-time baseball fans and supporter and former member of the Pulaski County School Board.
The group originally gathered at the baseball field, but a fast-moving storm with heavy wind, rain and lightning quickly forced the event to be moved into the PCMS auxiliary gym just after the eighth-grade members of the PCMS baseball team were recognized. Once gathered at the gym, Dr. Kevin Siers, Superintendent of Pulaski County Public Schools, spoke about Barbour and his impact on Pulaski County schools and baseball.
“Michael Barbour has been and continues to be a tremendous advocate for students, teachers, and public education in general,” Siers said. “During his eight years on the Pulaski County School Board, Mr. Barbour led the charge to improve teacher salary scales and facilitated stability with our health insurance premiums so that our school division could better compete with others in the region. His work on these issues improved the teacher retention rate in Pulaski County from one of the lowest in the state to one that is well above the state and regional averages. Mr. Barbour has been an incredible supporter of extra and co-curricular activities in Pulaski County including being one of the primary sponsors of the consolidated middle school baseball program before there was a consolidated middle school. However, Mr. Barbour will always hold a revered place in the history of our county for his work in steering the Pulaski County school division through a bond referendum campaign that resulted in two-thirds of the county’s voters approving the construction of the new $47,000,000 consolidated middle school on whose ground we stand. It is essential to note that none of these successes were easily won and much had to be accomplished in the face of heavy opposition from forces within our community. It is essential to note that none of this progress with our schools would have been made without the vision, expertise, guidance, and the sheer will of Mr. Mike Barbour. He is a persistent force for making the world a better place for children and Pulaski County is a better place because he decided to make his life here.”
After the Pledge of Allegiance, led by members of the currently PCMS Baseball team, a baseball signed by all team members was presented to Mr. Barbour. Next, Alex Haynes and Jack Kaiser of the PCHS Choir led the group in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame.” Finally, members of Pulaski County Recreation Department baseball teams and future Cougars baseball players Aaron Draper of Pulaski Elementary, Brayson Lytton of Critzer Elementary, Colby Farris of Snowville Elementary, Brenton Burgis of Dublin Elementary, and Conner Gravely of Riverlawn Elementary, presented Mr. Barbour with a framed Invitation to the event.
Tim Hurst, current Vice Chair of the Pulaski County School Board, spoke about Mr. Barbour and his love of baseball.
“In 2007, the Pulaski County Middle School Baseball Association was formed by Billy Dalton, Jeff Viers, Randall Morris and Mike Barbour,” Hurst said. “This was never a school sponsored sport. The first uniforms were donated by former PCHS Baseball Head Coach Doug Dunavant. The Pulaski County Touchdown Club, led then by Dan Callahan and Jay Vest, provided startup funding for the program. Pulaski County Public Schools allowed the team to use the baseball field at Dublin Middle School for practices and games. In their first year, Pulaski Baseball Inc. allowed the team to play all of their home games at Calfee Park.”
“Since the program was not school sponsored, they not only had to raise all their own money, but they also had to help get kids to and from practice and games with no school buses,” Hurst continued. “Mike coached baseball for a couple years, but is quick to credit Randall Morris for coaching the team for a decade and Randal’s son Braden for coaching the last couple of years. Mike Barbour spent countless hours of his own time and was certainly a driving force in getting organized baseball started for middle school kids in Pulaski County. While I know personally how good Mike is at raising money for all things concerning kids, I know Mike contributed greatly of his own financial resources.”
Hurst concluded his comments with a look at what Barbour did while a member of the school board.
“For nine years, Mike Barbour served as the Ingles District Representative on the school board,” he said. “He was the chairman for five of those years. I was fortunate to serve with Mike and witness him advocate for the children of Pulaski County and public education. While many accomplishments for PCPS happened during his time on the board, nothing is more evident of his dedication than the ground we stand on today. Mike Barbour has spent a great deal of his life helping make life better for children here in Pulaski County.”
Dr. Paige Cash, Chairwoman of the Pulaski County School Board, made the ceremony official by reading the Resolution of the Pulaski County School Board naming the baseball field at Pulaski County Middle School “Mike Barbour Field.”
“I really appreciate this honor,” Barbour said to the crowd. “We started the program in 2007 thinking it wouldn’t be long before we had a new combined middle school that would offer expanded sports programs. It took a while, but it finally happened. When we started the program, all of the surrounding schools in our area already had middle school baseball and we didn’t. The first year we had about 60 kids tryout. We didn’t win a game until our last one that season. We did all of this with the idea of baseball becoming a big part of our middle school. As proud of the baseball program as I am, I most proud of the fact that we now have this beautiful, state of the art middle school that is now offering expanded sports and extracurricular activities for all our young people. I thank you all very much for this honor. I am truly humbled.”