MOUNT ZION – With more than $19 million worth of construction taking place, Mount Zion School District officials look to enhance opportunities for students and the community.
Improvement projects will be a regular occurrence at the Mount Zion High School for the next 18 months, including work on the football field and additions of the auditorium and fieldhouse.
Aiming for completion before the first home game Sept. 12, the football field will be transformed from grass to a sewn-in turf surface.
Before stitching the seams across the stadium, crews laid about 25 pounds of a rubber and sand mix to each square foot of the field.
“If you do the math, that is a lot of rubber and sand to go around, and that's what will hold the fibers straight up and make it a softer surface for the students,” Superintendent Travis Roundcount said.
The field alternates light green and dark green turf every 10 yards. End zones are painted red with “Braves” strewn across in white lettering, and the MTZ logo is stamped across midfield.
Roundcount said work on the field is nearing completion, allowing crews to move on to the track.
The scoreboard has been moved to the north end of the field and will house a video display screen for playbacks and advertisements. New bleachers also will be added to the home section.
Construction in the school district served as a spotlight during the August luncheon for the Mount Zion Chamber of Commerce, and President Kyle Pflum said the additions will bring more people to the village and more exposure to local businesses.
“There are a lot of exciting things going on in the Mount Zion School District, and I think we will see a benefit to both students and businesses,” he said.
Work began on the auditorium and field house additions in early August, and the facilities are scheduled to be operational in January 2016.
The field house will have a 200-meter indoor track and four basketball courts. Once completed, physical education classes will be moved to the facility, which will also open up new opportunities for sports and extra curricular activities, high school Principal Kraig Garber said.
“As these projects take form, I have said to myself multiple times that I wish I was able to use facilities like this when I was in school, so it really gets me excited for our kids,” he said.
In the future, Roundcount said he hopes to have the space open to the public for a period of time for those wanting to walk the track.
The auditorium will contain main-level and balcony seating to accommodate up to 1,500 people. Including standing room, the capacity will be 2,000.
“First, we want to make sure that we provide the best possible educational experience for our students, and having facilities such as these will certainly help foster that,” Garber said. “Also, as various industries and organizations in the Decatur area are often bringing in families from all over, we hope that these facilities will appeal to them and help our school district and community continue to grow.”
The high school contains the brunt of improvement projects for the district, but the Mount Zion Grade School has had its share of construction work.
The mobile classroom unit that had sat on school grounds for the past 20 years was demolished, and a permanent structure of three classrooms and two bathrooms is being added to the existing building.
“Everything will be part of the main structure, and we will no longer have worries of students running back and forth from building to building during tornadoes and severe weather,” Roundcount said.
Completion of the grade school addition is slated for early October.