MORRIS – When Ruth Lines died in July 2013, her family asked donations be made to Immaculate Conception School in her honor.
The idea was the $2,500 donation would buy something permanent for the school.
Students reaped the benefits of that donation Monday, as temperatures reached 89 degrees with high humidity, making the day feel much warmer.
The donation in honor of Ruth purchased five of the 10 air conditioners installed in the school last spring.
“Every year about this time we talk about air conditioning. The school was built in 1962 and has never had it, other than a couple of newer rooms,” Principal Kim DesLauriers said. “In six weeks they won’t be on, but right now we are grateful for them.”
In the past, the school has opened windows and run fans to cool classrooms.
Larry Lines, Ruth’s husband, said they attended Grandparents Day once in an upstairs classroom.
It was so hot Ruth took three fans back to the school after she got home.
“I thought buying the air conditioners with the money was a wonderful idea,” Lines said. “It just seemed like the perfect thing.”
Heat changes activities
Morris Community High School students have air conditioning in their rooms, but not in the field house, which houses physical education classes.
Superintendent Pat Halloran said physical education met in the auditorium instead Monday. They planned to treat the period as a study hall because of the high temperatures.
“The field house floor also gets slippery when we have such high humidity, so for the safety of the children, we don’t hold it there,” Halloran said.
Coal City Unit District 1, Morris Elementary School District 54 and the Morris Chiefs football team and cheerleaders canceled afternoon practice because of the extreme heat.
Halloran said District 101 football players were told to come to practice in helmets only, instead of pads, to help students during practice.
Storms keep pool closed
The city of Morris had planned to open the Morris pool Monday evening to give people a chance to cool off, but early evening thunderstorms rolled in, causing them to stay closed.
“We wanted to offer some folks the opportunity to chill out,” Mayor Richard Kopczick said.
Pool Manager Jim Hitchcock said staff were at the pool ready to open when thunder started, causing the facility to stay closed.
Kopczick said the pool typically closes as schools go back in session, since many of the lifeguards are students, and the manager works as a teacher.
But after seeing the forecast Sunday, enough lifeguards were pulled together to add an extra evening.
Storms predicted for week
Monday’s afternoon storm brought down midday temperatures in Joliet from a high of 88 into the lower 70s by 3 p.m.
Hot, humid conditions with temperatures in the lower to middle 90s had been forecast throughout the region Monday, with heat indexes – the perceived temperature – between 98 and 104 degrees for the Joliet area, and between 105 to 109 degrees for points south, including Grundy County.
Humid conditions Monday generated the highest heat indexes recorded so far this year, said Matt Friedlein, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Romeoville.
The dew point in Morris at 9 a.m. Monday was 78, a point higher than Miami or New Orleans, according to the National Weather Service.
The National Weather Service forecasts a chance of storms each day through Friday, with a high today of 86 degrees, Wednesday and Thursday of 79 and Friday of 82.
• Shaw Media reporter
Bill Wimbiscus contributed to this report.