Construction crews work to enclose Raider Arena at Cleveland High Schools. Installing wooden floors and bleachers are the next critical tasks once the facility is enclosed and climate-controlled, said Cason Conn, project manager for general contractor Tri-Con Construction, in a recent meeting with school officials.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — An unexpected change in supervision of the Cleveland High School Raider Arena construction project has Cleveland City school officials seeking assurances from general contractor Tri-Con Construction.

In a meeting Wednesday, the city school board discussed the abrupt Nov. 2 resignation of project superintendent David Howard four months short of the gymnasium's scheduled opening.

Howard had supervised the project since its launch a year ago, said project manager Cason Conn.

"We never like that to happen," Conn said. "As a matter of fact, in 12 or 13 years of doing this, it never happened."

James Newby, Tri-Con's most senior superintendent with more than 20 years of experience, will take over the project's supervision, Conn said. Newby has been on-site for two months performing quality control responsibilities, he said.

"He's our best quality control guy," said Conn, explaining that Newby was brought in with the understanding that the project would move faster once the gym was enclosed and key interior work began.


Hal Taylor, maintenance and transportation supervisor for the city school system who is liaison on the project, praised Newby's knowledge and experience.

Conn also said he's spending more time at the site.

"We are not undermanning the job, plus we have a lot of oversight," he said.

School board Vice Chairman Steve Morgan asked if the change will affect the March 4 deadline.

"My concern would be [that] a lot of oversight versus intermittent leadership is going to cost us time," Morgan said.

Conn said the only deadline extensions to date have been for large change orders or bad weather.

"We deliver stuff on time, guys," Conn said.

Once the building is enclosed, dried in and climate-controlled, the next major step will be installing wood flooring and bleachers, Conn said.

Raider Arena replaces Raider Dome, Cleveland High School's 50-year-old landmark gymnasium. Raider Dome was demolished in the summer of 2014 after the discovery of structural problems.

Cleveland High School plans to hold its 2016 graduation in the new gym, said Dr. Martin Ringstaff, director of Cleveland City Schools.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at