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Elon U. Sits Back While Campaign Goes To Work For Palin's Visit

This story was written by Rachel Cieri, The Pendulum

For an event headlining with names as big as Sarah Palin and HankWilliams Jr., Elon University's administration has undertaken very few preparations at Latham Park to prepare for Thursday's event.

Director of Construction Management Neil Bromilow said his crews are entirely uninvolved with the preparations and Tom Flood, superintendent of landscaping and grounds, has supervised very minimal preparations.

Essentially, the McCain-Palin campaign is overseeing the entire event, they said.

"They have been excellent to work with," Flood said of the campaign volunteers. "They're very self-contained. They even have their own generator so they don't use our power."

The campaign has been using all of its own equipment and is paying for every expense, he said. The little money the university has invested is being tracked to be reimbursed by the campaign.

The McCain-Palin campaign declined to comment for security concerns.

The grounds workers have simply sprayed fungicide underneath the staging to prevent the growth of disease and have taken preventative measures in the access areas to protect the turf, Flood said.

Director of Physical Plant Robert Buchholz said the lights on the stadium needed to be adjusted so only a few would be lit during the event. The university is also providing some of the bus services from parking at Firehouse Field to Latham Park for special needs visitors.

Flood said their main role in the process is to provide information and discussion about the repairs that may be needed after the expected 10,000 to 15,000 people have crowded the park.

Buchholz and the physical plant have provided the campaign with basic maps of campus and the surrounding area. They have also helped to locate an area for restroom facilities and trash receptacles.

The campaign began setting up at 6 p.m. Tuesday, according to Buchholz.

By Wednesday evening volunteers had strategically placed massive signs proclaiming "Country First" and "Victory in North Carolina" near the stands at the field.

A platform with raised speakers had been placed near second base, facing toward the outfield.

As of Wednesday evening a majority of the equipment had yet to make its way onto the field, with two half-unloaded moving trucks sitting adjacent parking lot. A table saw, work bench and dozens of two-by-fours sat behind it.

Folding tables and chairs were still collapsed along the third base side of the field while upbeat music blared through the speakers that will project Palin's voice come Thursday.

Flood does not expect to do much to put the field back together after the event wraps up

"It will take a little work, but it won't have a major impact," he said.

Buchholz said the campaign will likely clean up after itself since they are taking care of more than 95 percent of the preparation, he estimates.

"We'll just come in behind them and get everything up to Elon standards," Buchholz said.

Grounds crews will oversee the field again following the event and the baseball team will return to practicing in Latham Park on Friday.

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