Jacksonville High School basketball fans headed to the JHS Bowl for the boys’ home opener tomorrow night will see a much improved facility.
Kristen Becker Hoffman is a founding member of the Preservation of the Bowl Committee formed in May of 2012 through the Jacksonville Public Schools Foundation.
Becker Hoffman says she’s inspired to fulfill the wishes of her late husband, Bobby, who was passionate about preserving the Bowl. He was a volunteer JHS basketball coach and former JHS player who died in September 2012.
She says the committee has raised funds to remodel the 61-year-old bleachers in the JHS Bowl.
“We knew that the renovation of the bleachers was something that we wanted to tackle,” says Becker Hoffman. “That’s what we’ve been up to for the last couple months at the Bowl. The north half of the bleachers when people come to look will see new, refinished bleachers.”
Becker Hoffman says the Greene County Boot Camp dismantled the bleachers and removed hundreds of pieces of gum. She says volunteers have been a tremendous help.
“Gary Donovan, a local woodworker helped to perfect the process that we wanted to do and he scraped off 91 pieces of gum on just the one board that he was able to refinish,” says Becker Hoffman. “Bobby’s father, Bob Hoffman, has been a great volunteer in helping with the details of the finishing of the boards. We’ve brought on Nancy Bork and Janet Becker to help in design of the stenciling which has been updated.”
She says the biggest obstacle was taking off the old varnish.
“John Goetz with R.D. Lawrence Construction came and brought Roger West with the local carpenters union and was able to secure the apprentice program in Pekin,” says Becker Hoffman. “They came down and took sections of the boards back to their school, worked with the new carpenters and apprentices to plane, router and sand the boards for us and prep for the staining which David Large was able to accomplish.”
Becker Hoffman says renovations on the south half of the bleachers will be finished by the start of the 2014-2015 basketball season. The gym floor will be refinished during the summer.
She says a lot of other work has gone into making the Bowl look new again.
“It really is truly a place where it might be the only place visitors visit when they come to Jacksonville,” says Becker Hoffman. “We know that it’s a marketing tool for Jacksonville. So, little things are important for us to improve. New sinks, new water fountains, the painting; the committee worked really hard that the new red and white is so crisp in the Bowl.”
Becker Hoffman adds former JHS boys’ basketball teams will be highlighted on the west end of gym with new frames surrounding team photos. Other projects include updating the trophy cases, the plumbing and electrical systems and improving landscaping around the Bowl.
The JHS boys’ basketball team entertains Morton at the Bowl tomorrow night at 6:30. You can hear the game on 107.1 FM.