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Michigan school’s blue turf field may cost Detroit Lions executive his house

Cameron Smith
Prep Rally

Almost precisely a year ago, Prep Rally brought you the bizarre tale of Oxford (Mich.) High and the school's blue FieldTurf, which can not legally be referred to as "blue turf" because of a strict copyright held by Boise State.

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Oxford Michigan's blue turf field

Oxford Michigan's blue turf field

Now it appears that Boise State may only be one small part of the issues facing the Oxford program because of its special turf. As first reported by the Oakland Press, five Oxford area families could lose their homes if $300,000 is not repaid to AstroTurf LLC by Sept. 1. In a twist, one of those donors also happens to be Detroit Lions senior vice president for communications Bill Keenist.

While it might seem rather foolhardy to have a massive, $400,000 loan offered up with private houses used as collateral, that's precisely what appears to have happened in Oxford. The Press reported that the private backing of the project was required after a municipal bond earmarked to pay for the new turf was rejected by local voters.

Rather than calling off the re-turfing project, Oxford officials opted to take out a $400,000 loan backed by private collateral and with only one year to pay off the debt. In the 12 months since the field became operational, the school has only raised $100,000, leaving the entire community in a mad scramble to try and drum up $300,000 in a matter of days to save the houses of Keenist and four other families.

"Lots of people around the community are stepping up to the plate and chipping in to get this thing repaid," said Jim Reis, chairmen of the turf committee and one of the home owners that stand to be foreclosed upon. "I'm honestly blown away by the response by everyone in this town and beyond. A woman from Warren just sent in a check for $1,000 the other day when she read about our situation. "We've just been overwhelmed by all the support."

Overwhelming or not, the current support may not be enough to save Reis or Keenist's homes, leaving others to marvel in the sacrifice that a small group of families has made for the greater benefit of the community.

"This was all done for the sake of the kids," Oxford School Board superintendent William Skilling told the Press. "That tells you a lot about the type of people that put up those houses and the kind of people we have here in our town. The school board will do everything we can do to support the community-wide effort to raise the funds needed."

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