Leadership Morton 2013 doesn’t have a required class project for its grads.

That’s a change from the past.

The inaugural Leadership Morton graduating class in 2011 formed the Morton Trail Association as its class project.

The still-active association played a major role in the 2011 construction of bicycle trails on both sides of Jefferson Street from an existing trail at Bond Street east to Pershing Street.

Last year’s Leadership Morton graduating class is helping in the planning and fundraising for a new press box in the Westwood Park baseball complex.

Why are things different?

“We heard some folks didn’t want to sign up for Leadership Morton because of the requirement,” said Kim Uhlig, business development director for the Morton Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors Leadership Morton, and the Morton Economic Development Council.

“It wasn’t because they didn’t want to be involved in a class project. It’s just that they’re busy and didn’t want to make the additional time commitment,” she said. “We can still do a class project, but it won’t be mandatory.”

This year’s nine-week leadership skills and community information program will begin Jan. 31 and again feature guest speakers and a textbook, “Strengths Based Leadership,” by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie, that was used in 2011.

Among the speakers are Morton Mayor Norm Durflinger; Morton District 709 Superintendent Lindsey Hall; Tazewell County Board member and former Morton Police Chief Nick Graff; Peoria County Sheriff Mike McCoy; Peoria City Council member and developer Chuck Weaver; and James Baumgartner, director of corporate public affairs for Caterpillar Inc.

Uhlig said Dennis Kief, former Pekin city manager who is now a consultant for the Tri-County Regional Planning Commission, and Susie Ketterer, principal with the Peoria-based Simantel marketing and communications firm, will “do a tag-team presentation on how to generate community involvement.”

Leadership Morton classes will be from 7:30 to 10 a.m. each Thursday from Jan. 31 through March 28 in the training room at the Morton fire station. Tuition is $250 for chamber members and $300 for nonmembers.

For registration information, go to www.mortonchamber.org or contact chamber Executive Director Jennifer Daly at 263-2491 or jdaly@mortonillinois.org.