COLUMNS

Halls of 709: Athletic facilities undergo renovations, fundraiser effort holds events

Staff Writer
Morton Times-News
District 709 Superintendent Lindsey Hall

We are entering an exciting era of facilities improvement on our campus at Morton High School. On March 3, our Board of Education approved the $4.7 million project to renovate and repair the outdoor athletics/activities facilities at our high school.  You have might already noticed some dirt, dust, noise, heavy equipment and other activity at the school.  

This project will address parts of the facilities that are in disrepair, such as the bleachers and pressbox, and will also improve other areas such as the tennis courts, track and field facilities, and band practice field. The improvements include the installation of artificial turf, and increasing the tennis courts from four to eight, all of the courts being lighted. In addition, the school district and Village of Morton have partnered together to discuss and agree on some nice improvements along Kay Street — which include a sidewalk and off-street parking.  Collaboration with the Park District on this project is forthcoming.  

Community members have asked me, and our members of our Board of Education, why we are moving ahead with this project now when there are ongoing discussions about a long-term facilities plan. This is an excellent question. The reason is that the outdoor facilities at Morton High School cannot wait any longer to be repaired and renovated. If you have been to an event at the stadium, you have seen and experienced first-hand not only what the facility looks like, but the fact that the bleachers are inhospitable for guests with physical challenges, and are 40 years old (at least!).  The press box has been deemed “dangerous” by members of the media.  Having been in there myself multiple times, I can attest to not only the cramped quarters, but the sensation that it sways — a lot. 

Continuing to keep the tennis courts a mere few steps away from a busy state route with no barriers is a liability that needs to be addressed as well. 

Finally, the playing surface of the athletic field needed to be replaced regardless of any other upgrades, and the decision to install artificial turf makes this a multi-use facility for all types of groups: band, physical education classes and athletics. If the Board of Education would decide that building a new building is in our future, we are years away from occupancy — there are still many questions to answer and decisions to be made.  

The renovations at the high school can no longer wait. Our students are being impacted negatively without addressing the problems that exist there.  

I would like to ask that you join me in supporting a multi-group collaborative fundraising effort called Build4Community.  

This group is a joint project between the Morton High School Athletic Boosters, Morton High School Band Boosters, Club Sooie and Morton Lacrosse. Given that the installation of the turf transforms the facilities at MHS into a community facility, this is a community effort of multiple groups coming together to support this project. Two major events have been planned to raise funds to help offset the cost of the artificial turf.    

The first is “Drive4URSchool.”   Please take a look at the website to learn more about this exciting event, which is sponsored by Mike Murphy Ford. Thank you to Mike Murphy Ford! It is taking place all day April 18 at Morton High School. You can register to help with this event and get more information atwww.build4community.weebly.com/events.htm

The Facebook page for Build4Community is www.facebook.com/build4community/

If you are on Facebook, please visit, explore and ‘Like’ the page.

Build4Community is also sponsoring a raffle.  The drawing is May 30 at a special event at Knights of Columbus. Tickets for the raffle are $100 each, with the grand prize being $3000. 

Local businesses and people are donating other great prizes, including a timeshare. Tickets are available at Morton High School, or from members of the booster clubs involved.  

Many volunteers have come together, as well as local businesses, to support, contribute and help with these two events. This is a wonderful example of how communication and collaboration can lead to positive outcomes for our students and community. Thank you to all of those who are volunteering and contributing to Build4Community!  

We hope to see you at these events, or supporting them in some way.  

Submitted by District 709 Superintendent Lindsey Hall