Morton pitching in for athletic facilities

Steve Stein GateHouse Media Illinois

Parents, alumni and school personnel have joined forces to help District 709 pay for a $4.7 million renovation of Morton High School’s outdoor athletic facilities that began this month.

Build4Community is composed of representatives from the high school’s athletic boosters and band boosters, Club Sooie football alumni organization and Morton Lacrosse Club.

High school athletic director Greg Prichard, marching band director Jeff Neavor and football coach Eric Lyons also are lending a hand.

Neavor said the group is focusing its efforts on raising money to install and maintain artificial turf at Carper Field because so many students will benefit from the turf.

“This is a united effort among organizations that don’t usually work together,” he said.

Lyons agreed.

“We’re all on the same team,” he said. “We enhance each other.”

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the group through a fund overseen by the Morton Community Foundation.

The group’s will have a fundraiser, Drive 4UR School, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the high school parking lot.

Licensed drivers age 18 and older (one per household) can take a free test drive in vehicles provided by Mike Murphy Ford in Morton.

Ford Motor Company will donate $20 for each test drive, up to a maximum of $6,000. Each driver will be asked to fill out a short survey. Signup in advance is encouraged on the group’s website.

Band boosters treasurer Greg Lauer, who is organizing the event, said tickets for a Build4Community raffle will be sold there.

Tickets are $100 each. First prize is $3,000 cash. Donated prizes include dinner and a stay at the Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center in East Peoria. Drawings will be May 30 at the Knights of Columbus hall in Morton.

The high school renovation project also includes the installation of new bleachers, lighting, press box and track and renovation of a locker room at Carper Field, construction of an eight-court lighted tennis complex and marching band practice area with a band director platform, and infrastructure improvements.

Neaver is excited about the replacement of Carper Field’s problematic grass surface with artificial turf.

“Besides the middle of the field being trashed by September, it was dangerous for the kids when it was wet and muddy,” he said.