A joint project between Daikin America, Morgan County Schools and the Morgan County Commission will create the first playing field with an artificial surface for special-needs students in Morgan County.

The field will be constructed at Sparkman School, and the school system will open bids to build the facility next week, said Superintendent Bill Hopkins Jr.

“We’re doing this project in three phases, and when completed, this will give our special need students greater access to athletics,” he said.

Daikin America is providing the majority of the funding for the first phase — which is the field. The company has donated $100,000.

Phase 2 includes a concession stand with bathrooms and phase 3 will be improvements around the facility that will give students, especially those in wheelchairs, easier access.

Commission Chairman Ray Long said Morgan County will provide in-kind work during all three phases.

“This is an awesome project and something that’s needed,” he said.

Sparkman School Principal Lane Dillard said the improvements are needed because the school is headquarters to Home Runs and Family Fun, a softball league for special need students.

She said about 60 students, mostly from the three public school systems in Morgan County, play in the league.

“If we have a small amount of rain, we have to cancel games because players with mobility challenges can’t get around,” Dillard said.

She said the artificial playing surface will likely increase participation in the league. “This will create much better opportunities for students,” Dillard said.

Including the football stadiums at Austin and Decatur, the field will be the third in Morgan County with an artificial surface.

Although the field is at Sparkman, Hopkins said it will be available for anyone in Morgan County.

“This is about giving students access and opportunity,” he said.

- deangelo@decaturdaily.com or 256-340-2469. Twitter @DD_Deangelo.

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