Facebook post showing discarded Lebanon H.S. gym equipment stirs controversy

LEBANON, Tenn. (WKRN) – A social media post showing pictures of weightlifting equipment from the old Lebanon High School in a salvage yard has stirred controversy.

Bob Lea with the Blue Devil Football Foundation posted the pictures over the weekend on his Facebook page and parents quickly began to weigh in.

Courtesy: Bob Lea
Courtesy: Bob Lea

Lea, a graduate of Lebanon High School and former football player, told News 2 he estimates the equipment to be worth approximately $7,000 to $8,000 and calls it a “vulgar display of waste.”

The new Lebanon High School was built four years ago and new weights were purchased for the weight room. The old weights were left behind.

“That’s been a little bit of an issue because in the new school where they got state of the art weights, there weren’t enough weights to work out as many kids as they needed to at one time,” Lea told News 2.

Lea says he was surprised when he recently learned the equipment had been taken to a local salvage yard. He snapped a few photos and posted them on his Facebook page.

According to Lea, the equipment includes six weight trees, five squat racks, six glute and ham machines, one leg press machine and 14 weight bars.

Lea says some of the middle schools, which do not have weights, could have used them.

Wilson County Board of Education Chairman Larry Tomlinson responded to Lea’s Facebook post and said, in part, “The pictures that Mr. Lea has posted are of equipment that was deemed to be unsafe for use in strength and conditioning programs in our schools. Had this not been the case, this equipment would have been taken to the new programs that had just been started at Tuckers Cross Roads and Carroll Oakland.” Read his full statement at the bottom of this story.

News 2 contacted Tomlinson by phone. He also told us the equipment was determined unsafe.

“We’re looking at steel racks. There are no moving parts, no cables, these are steel racks, steel bars. They don’t go bad. They don’t have an expiration date on them,” said Lea.

He continued, “It’s just a waste of money to throw something away when you could get some use with the kids because it’s all about the kids,” Lea told News 2.

Lea told News 2 that he has since purchased the equipment from the scrap metal yard for $415.

“Hopefully, we can get some use out of them for our middle school kids,” said Lea.

Director of Schools, Donna Wright, told News 2 the old Lebanon High School is currently in the process of being renovated.

It will eventually become the new central office.

Wright said they’d been through the old high school many times and anything they determined wasn’t usable was thrown away, which is how the equipment ended up in the salvage yard.

Larry Tomlinson’s full statement:

I don’t normally publicly react to this type of thing, but I feel strongly that in this case I must. This is in response to the Bob Lea post that seems to have gone viral concerning the obsolete weight room equipment that was recently removed from the old Lebanon High School and sold for scrap. Mr. Lea makes reference to the “football program’s” unsuccessful attempt to get possession of this equipment. When the new high school was built, all new state-of-the-art strength and conditioning equipment was purchased for the new weight room. Anything that was left in the old weight room that was of any use was taken to the new school or offered to any other county school that could use it. After Coach Harp came to Lebanon, he went back to old weight room and got additional equipment that he felt could be used. The pictures that Mr. Lea has posted are of equipment that was deemed to be unsafe for use in strength and conditioning programs in our schools. Had this not been the case, this equipment would have been taken to the new programs that had just been started at Tuckers Cross Roads and Carroll Oakland under the guidance of former LHS Coach Mark Medley. Coach Medley was hired to be the strength and conditioning coach as well as the Character Coach for those two schools which feed Lebanon High School. It should be noted that the mats that were left at the old high school were removed and taken to be used at these two schools. It was also referenced in Mr. Lea’s post that the Board refused to let the “football program” take this equipment be used to help their feeder program, which I am assuming he means schools in the Lebanon Special School District. It should be noted that anything that we felt was unsafe for our own athletes should not be given to anyone else. It is not the obligation nor responsibility of the Wilson County Board of Education to furnish equipment to the Lebanon Special School District. However, I would like to point out that the Lebanon Special School District receives 16.78% of all elementary school revenue that the county receives. I have no idea how much money they have in their budget, but I would think it would be enough to buy new equipment just as the county did for Carroll Oakland and Tuckers Cross Roads. I would think if they wanted to get into the strength and conditioning business, they wouldn’t want obsolete and unsafe equipment, but would do as the county did and go first class. Let me close by saying that anyone who knows me, and knows anything about Lebanon High School should agree that there has never been a bigger advocate for LHS, its athletic programs, academics or the school in general than I have been and will continue to be. However, if you want to follow Mr. Lea’s suggestion that you consider this issue the “next time you vote”, there will be five board members elected in August 2016; so let the posturing begin!

If you have read this to the end, I encourage you to share it.

Larry Tomlinson, Chairman
Wilson County Board of Education

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