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City's New "Turf Manager" J.C. White Eager to Put Athletic Fields in Top Condition for Area Sports Leagues

City Athletic Fields to Get First-time Expert Treatment

Keeping fit and active is important for thousands of Lake Wales residents, so the City of Lake Wales is now making an extra effort to see that the sports facilities they use are in top shape.

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

J.C. White is one of the newest employees in the Lake Wales Parks and Recreation Department, charged with maintaining the heavily-used turf on the city's baseball and soccer fields.

J.C. White is now in charge of making the town's many sports fields look their very best. White is Lake Wales' new Athletic Turf Superintendent, which places him in charge of bringing the athletic fields 'up to snuff,' where they deserve to be. With 16 baseball and softball fields and seven multi-use fields including the Lake Wales Soccer Complex to manage, he will likely have plenty to keep him busy.

Since Lake Wales has never had one person specifically assigned to bring the city's athletic fields into tip-top shape and keep them that way, White has almost a blank slate to put together his own master plan.

The new position was created for him in the Parks and Recreation Department last summer. Since then, he has been enthusiastically digging in. Literally. White plans to aerate the fields twice a year in the off season, only part of his new plan of attack to make the fields lusher and greener.

Mechanically perforating the fields to aerate the soil allows the grass roots to breathe and encourages an exchange of gases between the air and the soil. As oxygen enters the soil, carbon dioxide, the byproduct of microbial activity and plant root respiration, escapes. Aeration also allows water and important nutrients to penetrate the soil.

He says there's a lot to do before the fields look the way he envisions them. Since accepting the newly created position, White has been re-adjusting sprinklers, cutting back irrigation time on some areas and doubling it on others. He is also applying organic fertilizer to increase the nitrogen in the soil.

"You want to target the pests to attack," White said. "With chemicals and fertilizers at an all-time high cost, precision and timing is important. You " can't just settle for average," he said.

Courtesy City of Lake Wales

J.C. White is now the go-to guy expected to bring city athletic fields up to top shape. He is initiating a program of aeration and modifying watering schedules to help build the lush green fields that make play even more fun.

White has been working in agriculture, in one form or another, for most of his life. "I love going to work," he said. "I would rather be working twelve hours outside, than eight inside."

The outdoors bug bit White in middle school while he was working with his granddad, Ralph White, who owned a grove care business in Winter Haven. Working alongside him, White learned the ins and outs of harvesting, when to plant new trees and remove old ones.

The biggest lesson he learned from his granddad was, he said, "Don't be afraid of hard work."

To formalize his training, White studied citrus at Florida Southern College in Lakeland. His first professional job was working in Polk County's citrus industry. From there, he worked at Mountain Lake Estates in golf course maintenance for eight years, where he refined his knowledge in turf maintenance under seasoned professionals Scott Scamehorn and Brad Quackenbush.

Before taking the job with the city White was working at Reunion, a golf Resort in Kissimmee.

"I was looking for a change of pace from the resort," he said. He got it, along with a lot of new responsibilities, that include infusing new life into the baseball fields at Kiwanis Park, across from Lake Wailes, and the soccer fields out on Hunt Brothers Road.


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