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Foundation awards grant to District 518

Ana Anthony/Daily Globe The grant presented by the Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation contributes to the lighting of the tennis courts and programming equipment.

WORTHINGTON -- The eight newly built tennis courts by the middle school is a classic example of several entities working together to promote health and wellness in the community.

With collaboration from the school district, the city, Sanford Health, and most recently, Worthington Regional Health Care Foundation (WRHCF) and Worthington Public Utilities, the project of approximately $850,000 is a few steps shy of completion.

On Friday, the foundation board members presented a check amounting to $85,333.06 to high school tennis coach Mike Marquardt along with several school board members and administrators present at the Worthington Area Chamber of Commerce.

The dual-purpose grant from the foundation will provide for the installation of lights ($70,000) and fitness equipment ($15,000).

"The board felt that the installation of lights will provide for increased daily playing," said WRHCF executive director, Bob Demuth Jr. "We felt that the grant fell within our mission statement which is to promote and facilitate operations in favor of health and education to the residents of Worthington and the surrounding area."

Worthington Public Utilities will be participating in the project by contributing labor for the installation of the new lights.

In 2010, District 518 Board of Education approved a plan to replace the school district's run-down tennis courts.

Superintendent John Landgaard said the district has not owned usable tennis courts for several years

"The last four to five year, we've been using the college courts -- of which those also need some maintenance," he said in reference to the Minnesota West Community and Technical College facility.

Additionally, students also used the courts at Pleasant Park and Centennial Park.

"We really didn't have competition courts and there was a huge need for it," Landgaard said.

Work on the tennis courts began in July 2011 and ended about three months after.

This spring, students and community members have enjoyed the new facility but Landgaard said there are several things left to do yet -- the finishing coat, installation of lights and planting of trees.

When the project was undertaken by the school board, there was an initial plan to construct new restrooms, and concession stand.

The costly additions, however, resulted in the board foregoing the new amenities.

"That was about another $135,000 to $140,000," Landgaard said, adding the existing restrooms and concession area was maintained.

Annual recurring cost for the courts will be borne by the school district.

The tennis courts are available to the public at any time the school tennis teams are not using them.

"We really encourage them (community members) to use it as much as possible," Landgaard said.

Additionally, several physical education classes will also be conducted at the courts.

Daily Globe Reporter Ana Anthony may be reached at 376-7321.