Donors, students, county residents, school district officials, and former and current administrators gathered Tuesday to officially cut the ribbon marked “the next 100 years,” and open the new Trojan Century Center.
The 46,600-square-foot indoor physical education and recreation center includes an artificial turf practice field for soccer/football/baseball, an indoor running track, basketball courts, volleyball courts, two classrooms, concession areas, storage and restrooms.
With a price tag of $3,782,811, the new center cost about $81 in construction costs per square foot. That is a good deal compared to costs of between $160 and $189 per square foot for a like-size competition gym.
A majority of the funding for the project came from Qualified School Construction Bonds, interest-free bonds from a federal stimulus program. The $286,000 annual payment on the bonds will come from the school district’s capital levy fund for the next 17 years. This year, the federal government paid the interest on the bonds to the tune of $105,000.
“We got a bargain,” Superintendent Ken Adams said.
School officials said the real victory involved in raising funds for the center was the work of the Morgan Education Foundation, which coordinated efforts to garner $625,050 in donations for the project.
“We couldn’t have done it without the many donors,” Boardmember Bruce Galbraith said.
Adams said the center is the 58th school district building constructed in the district’s history.
“I salute the board, who had the courage to do this in tough times. This one has been a challenge, there is no secret about that,” Adams said. “But it has been well worth it. I came to a realization of how valuable it is when I saw the students in it.”
Serenaded by Morgan High School’s Millenial Choir singing the National Anthem as well as the school song, attendees toured the new facility.
Morgan High Principal Wade Murdock agreed.
“We just shake our heads and our jaws drop when we come in here,” he said. “It is amazing to see what we have” in this “state-of-the-art, multi-faceted” facility.
He said the new facility would help shift the load off the aging high school gym, as well as provide classrooms for teachers who are currently doubled up in rooms.
“To say it was needed is an understatement,” Murdock said.
Galbraith recalled that the “century” part of the facility’s title denotes 1911, the year that the first high school started in Morgan County.
Officials expect the building to last another 50 years, beyond the 20 to 30 years of similar buildings they toured when preparing for Morgan’s new facility.
The new facility will help the district prepare for growth in the future, Galbraith said.
“Our county is growing, and we have to prepare for that,” he said. “We’ve come a long way, and we have a lot further to go.”
With an eye to the future, Morgan High’s student body officers prepared a time capsule complete with a binder detailing this year’s accreditation process, yearbooks, a jersey, a video tour of the school, a cell phone, student section T-shirt, fun facts, newspaper articles, CD of the year’s top songs, the legend of “Bouncing Betty” movie, a Twinkie, and letters from city, county, and school district officials about our era.