Removing tape

From left, Josh Stott and Jason Welliver with Southern Flooring Inc. of Greenville remove tape after painting the new gym floor Monday at Morehead City Middle School. (Cheryl Burke photo)

MOREHEAD CITY Students and staff of Morehead City Middle School will start 2020 with a new gym floor thanks to a grant from the Big Rock Blue Marlin Tournament Charitable Giving Foundation and private donations.

Southern Flooring Inc. of Greenville, S.C., is installing the maple wood floor during Christmas break. The floor is scheduled to be finished by the time students return Monday.

“I can hardly wait for the students to play their first games on this floor, it’s amazing,” MCMS basketball and volleyball coach and eighth grade social studies teacher Mike Ball said as he checked on the floor Monday. “This will be a beacon of pride, not only for athletic events, but for community events.”

The total cost of the floor is $90,000. Big Rock provided a $54,000 grant, with $36,000 raised through private donations.

“We are extremely grateful to the Big Rock as well as all of our private donors for helping our students and community to have a much-needed update to our facility that is safe and comparable to other gyms in our county,” MCMS Principal Adam Olander said Saturday.

The school is also hoping to raise an additional $30,000 for new paint in the gym, updated lighting, new baseline wall mats, a new scorers table and added chairs for more seating.

Mr. Olander said the old gym floor was made of a concrete tile substance that had been in place for more than 20 years.

“Age is showing its signs and there is deterioration in many places. In addition, the concrete can be rough to fall on and stressful to joints whenever used, particularly for sports activities. While a varnish is typically applied yearly to help with traction, it is not long before the surface becomes slick again,” Mr. Olander said in a statement to the News-Times. “A wood floor is a much more forgiving surface than the current concrete floor and it is better able to be maintained over time, with re-finishing. Maple wood floors are the standard in most gymnasiums that are used for athletics.”

Mr. Olander said the school has included the gym project in previous county capital requests, but it remained unfunded. This inspired him to apply for a Big Rock grant and begin a fundraising effort.

“We would be appreciative of any support that we can get to this worthy project to provide our students and our community with a great facility,” Mr. Olander said.

He pointed out that the gym “is the centerpiece of the entire school,” and is used daily by students. It’s used for athletic events, band concerts, awards ceremonies and community events.

“We are often asked by other schools, especially the high school (West Carteret High School), to provide practice space when their gym space is at a premium,” Mr. Olander said. “We allow the Morehead City (Parks and) Recreation Department free use of the space in support of local athletic programs.”

Mr. Olander said those wanting to donate toward the additional gym renovations can give straight to the school by writing checks payable to Morehead City Middle School, referencing the gym renovation project.

Donors can also make a tax-exempt donation to Carteret County Public Schools Foundation by sending a check to Carteret County Public School Foundation, with a note in the memo line it is for the MCMS gym renovation. The check can be mailed to the Carteret County Public School Foundation, 107 Safrit Drive, Beaufort, NC 28516. Donations written to the foundation will be earmarked for the MCMS gym renovation project.

Mr. Olander said the school will have a sponsor/recognition board at the gym entrance to recognize donations of $1,000 or more and $5,000 or more.

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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