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J. Thomas McNamara

      Decatur’s three football fields are the same today as they were in 1995.
       That’s when football games were played at Eisenhower’s Alexander Field, MacArthur played at Matheson Field and Stephen Decatur played on its field west of the school. That’s when Stephen Decatur was a high school.
          I recently learned the Decatur District 61 administration turned down athletic directors requests for artificial turf at Alexander and Matheson fields.
           I wrote DPS61 chief communications officer Denise Swarthout for explanation why the administration rejected Jason Crutcher and Tim Gould’s requests to turf Alexander and Matheson fields.
          She is out of the office today (Thursday, Aug. 26) and unable to gather the “Why’s” the administration rejected their request.
           I responded, asking her to get the information to the Decatur Tribune by the end of the day Friday.
          Obviously improving our field conditions at the two high schools isn’t a priority for either this or previous administrations.  Athletics aren’t a priority for this district which is sad.
          Former Superintendent Dr. Gloria Davis had the perfect opportunity to do so back when the district was financing the reconstruction and renovations of the two high schools.
       Even her assistant superintendent Lisa Taylor at the time supported turf for the schools and Davis still rejected hers and my pleas.
       I met several times with her in her Keil Building office and couldn’t convince her to include in the projects.
        Those costs back then were less than they are today which is disappointing.
          Just think for a moment what we’d have now at less money than it will be today.
          What makes their decisions troublesome is neighboring Mattoon is not only installing turf on its football field, but also for soccer and baseball
           That’s foresight by the Green Wave administration and school board for approving the expenditures for them.
       Mount Zion and Taylorville have football artificial turf with the Green Wave joining them in the Apollo the next season.
        No one has turf in the Central Illinois Conference, Argenta-Oreana is the only team in the Lincoln Prairie with turf, the Sangamo has Maroa-Forsyth and Virden North Mac, and the Central State 8 has Normal University High who plays on Illinois State’s turf and Sacred Heart Griffin has its own turf field.
           I will have more on this developing story in a future print edition of the Decatur Tribune.

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