Hononegah Board of Education approves new tennis courts but holds off on lights


Claire Larsen, Sydney Webb, Lizzie Schindler, and Mya Carter competed at the 2019 state tennis tournament.

Hononegah Community High School's Board of Education received positive feedback on the proposed building of eight new tennis courts. When they reviewed emails and correspondence from the public, many were in support of either new tennis courts and or installing lights at the potential court site.

The proposed tennis courts would cost $595,995, constructed by Scandrolli Construction. The cost to add lights would be an additional $249,900.

Hononegah's new tennis coach John Torrence said, “I am very happy that we are filling these courts and I see a great opportunity in building a tennis community. It is a big deal to have eight courts; this would allow us to have bigger programs in the summer.”

Torrence talked about how much help the lights would give as an extra opportunity to play. “We will also have pickleball, which is more influential than ever. I am looking forward to expanding the program here,” Torrence added.

Brian and Tammy Dean said, “We have played mixed doubles tennis; once we picked up pickleball we never looked back. It is a fast growing sport. We never have enough courts to play on. If you build these people will come. There are around 300 people who are pickle ball warriors. If you have this here, you might have people coming to establishments. If it is brought here, those who are 35 and under would play.”

Student Elizabeth Schindler has played tennis for three years. “It is a bummer not being able to play because it gets dark and matches cannot be finished. I am very excited about this and the team is in support it as well.”

Before proceeding to vote on the tennis courts, Superintendent Mike Dugan gave a history. “Hononegah is going to turn 100 this year. At one time, HCHS had 10 courts; we have two now and a parking lot.”

Dugan recalled that the 2017 referendum, which failed, included a pool. The next one passed and allowed the field house to be built. 

Dugan said, "We had settled at eight courts at the beginning of the pandemic. We had projected a price of $100,000 less than the original amount budgeted. At a buildings and grounds meeting, comparisons were made to 16 different schools. We asked if this would benefit the community. The school has contacted Rockton Village President John Peterson to see if the village can possibly help with funding. This will be brought to the Rockton Village trustees."

Board member Eric Flohr said, “I remember coming here eight years ago when we had five tennis courts. I couldn't believe all of the cracks they had and the shape they were in. As a tennis dad [Erica Flohr is ranked 7th in her district], this board has vision. We are looking at the overall cost of the tennis courts and lights, which is a lot of money when we have a lot of projects to do at this time. As a board member, I am comfortable in saying that there might be better ways to get the money.”

Board member Jim Minard said, “We owe it to our community to create a healthy environment by adding lights. The lights would make the courts more accessible to the taxpayers of the community. We should try to maximize the use of the courts for everyone. This was referred to a committee for a greater plan. I think we are being short sided if this doesn't pass.”

Board member Bob Geddeis said, “Maybe down the road we can revisit this; the topic is not dead.”

Kurlinkus said, “We can always add lights.”

The HCHS board voted to approve construction of the tennis courts. The vote on adding lights ended in a tie of three yes and three no votes, so the lights portion did not pass. With this vote, the lights proposal will go back to committee again and may be presented to the board for future approval.

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