Community Pulse: Lighting up Liberty, Washington streets

Celebration lighting brightens downtown Morris

MORRIS – New celebration lighting is brightening downtown Morris.

The intersection of Liberty and Washington streets is now enhanced with overhead lighting. The lighting will not only add character to downtown but serves to draw passersby to the area. Directors from the Morris Downtown Development Partnership were joined by city officials and members of the Grundy County Corn Festival Committee as John Sparrow, president of Corn Festival, flipped the switch to turn on the lights.

The lighting project was a recommendation from the new downtown master plan. Although the Morris Downtown Development Partnership would like to see lighting installed at additional intersections, it began with Liberty and Washington streets. This location is a prominent “people place” with the nearby courthouse lawn where many events and activities are hosted, the Morris Downtown Development Partnership said.

The lighting would not have been possible without the generous support received from the Grundy County Corn Festival Committee. When the annual festival was not able to go forward last year, the committee decided to sell commemorative 2020 buttons and donated all proceeds to the Morris Downtown Development Partnership for this project. Mayor-elect Chris Brown, City Clerk-elect Lori Werden and City Treasurer-elect Terri Kief generously donated funds to cover the production costs of the buttons. Additional funding for the lights came from the Morris Downtown Development Partnership.

The Grundy County Corn Festival’s sponsorship is a fitting donation for this project. The inaugural Corn Festival in 1949 began as a dedication ceremony for the new mercury vapor street lights, as well as the resurfacing of Liberty and Washington streets. The Morris Business Men’s Association decided that it was only fitting to have a gala to celebrate the occasion. As part of the celebration, then-Mayor H. Raymond Peacock turned on the new lights during a brief ceremony at 7:30 p.m. He gave a detailed explanation of the mercury vapor lights and told the audience that it would take between five and 10 minutes for the lights to attain full brilliancy. Unlike 1949, the new lights went on immediately when Sparrow flipped the switch. Included in the Business Men’s Association’s proposition was a request to provide outlets on the new streetlights to make possible the installation of lighting for the holidays and other special occasions.

The Morris Downtown Development Partnership would love to have lighting installed at additional intersections. Although the cost of the lights is reasonable, the cost of structural enhancements and labor are significant. The organization is considering various funding options to move forward including individual and corporate donations. Now is your opportunity to help enhance your community!

For information or to contribute, contact the Morris Downtown Development Partnership at 815-941-0245 or