The main room at Freedom Hall has a 21st-century audio-visual system.
That wasn’t always the case.
For years, a portable projector was used to display a presentation on a large screen.
When the Morton Village Board met during a presentation, the mayor had to get up from his seat at the board table and go into the audience or else he would be staring into the light from the projector.
Residents watching a board meeting on television or online at home could barely read what was on the projector screen because the presentation was shown through the camera recording the meeting.
Sound was spotty at best.
Now, a video is shown on a large projector screen from a ceiling-mounted projector and two monitors. Everyone in the room can see a presentation without moving, and the presentation is part of the meeting coverage at home.
“Picture and sound are four times better," said Morton Mayor Jeff Kaufman. "State of the art. Not a joke."
Kaufman proposed the new audio-visual system when he was a Village Board trustee. The project was completed last fall, a few months before Kaufman was elected mayor in April.
Kaufman said he pushed for the system for several reasons.
“It’s important to show Morton government in action," Kaufman said. "As elected officials, we want residents to be better informed, have a clearer understanding of what we’re doing, and the reasons for our decisions.
“We also want business owners who are thinking of locating in Morton or expanding their business to see we’re being pro-active in infrastructure improvements and business friendly while addressing the needs of residents.”
The cost of the audio-visual project was split between the village of Morton and Morton Park District, which owns Freedom Hall, with the village responsible for:
• Two 65-inch HD TV monitors mounted on the sides of the room.
• An in-ceiling speaker system.
• A wall-mounted iPad that controls the feed for the monitors and the projector system.
• Audio amplifier, sound mixing board, connections and cables for the microphone system.
• Labor for installation.
All that cost the village $15,572, which was partially offset by a $1,050 grant from the Morton Community Foundation.
The Park District was responsible for the ceiling-mounted projector, 106-inch motorized projector screen and the labor for installation at a cost of $6,753.
More will be added to the system in the future, according to Kaufman. There are plans to implement technology so, for example, a map of a street project can be projected from a laptop onto the screen and monitors.
The construction of Freedom Hall, 349 W. Birchwood St., was driven and overseen by Morton’s Bicentennial Committee.
The facility was built without taxpayer money thanks to monetary donations and donated material and labor. After Freedom Hall’s completion in 1980, it was handed over to the Park District, which eventually moved its offices there.
Steve Stein can be reached at 686-3114 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.