New director named for Morton High School band

By Holly Eaton for Chronicle Media

Tim Gray, who studied music performance on euphonium at Illinois State University will take over as the Morton High School director of bands at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year. His son, Garrett, 14, will attend MHS, and also plays the euphonium. (Photo courtesy of Tim Gray)

Former Morton High School marching band director Jeff Neavor will not be on the Morton District 709 payroll at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

During a Dec. 4 Morton Board of Education meeting, it was announced that Neavor would be reassigned within the district after he admitted to engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a high school coworker.

“This past year (Neavor) admittedly engaged in an inappropriate personal relationship with a female employee over whom he had supervisory responsibility,” Board President Tom Neely said at meeting “He has engaged in actions which the board believes demonstrate poor judgment unfitting for someone who leads an important program in our school district.”

Neavor, who is currently on medical leave, has since declined the reassignment and will resign June 30. The district has agreed to pay Neavor his full salary of $71,500 and provide health insurance through Aug. 30.

In exchange, he has agreed not to sue the school district for discrimination or labor law violations. In December, Neavor announced his engagement to Erin L’hommedieu Hawks, and the two plan to marry in May.

Tim Gray, who studied music performance on euphonium at Illinois State University, will take over as the director of bands at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year.

While at ISU, Gray was the principal euphonium in the wind symphony, and continues to offer private brass lessons.

Members of the Iowa Hawkeye Marching Band form a hand in a performance designed by Morton High School’s newly-named band director Tim Gray. Gray designed the drill for the neighboring Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital as a way to wave at the children who watch from the windows there. (Photo courtesy of Tim Gray)

The Iowa native also holds a degree in music education from the University of Iowa, and serves as an adjudicator for Drum Corps International, Winter Guard International, various Winter Guard Circuits and numerous state marching band associations.

Through his business, Gray Visual Design, Gray has been contracted by xTarheel Drum, Bluecoat, Phantom Legion, Colts and Blue Knights drum and bugle corps.

“I’ve been a clinician consultant for bands, and people contract me out for work with their students, to show them how to be more effective with groups and staff,” Gray said.

Gray said he’ll travel to Morton periodically during spring and summer to get to know staff, parents and the booster organization. His wife Sara and their sons, Garrett, 14, and Gaige, 8, will move to Morton from Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

“For sure this summer, I’m probably going to be there this spring to help the transition, to help the students, get to know them and the booster organization.

“One of the things that attracted me is the great feeling of community and the parents, faculty … everybody is on the same page and that made the job attractive to me,” Gray said.  “I’m super excited for myself and my family. We’ve been really fortunate to live in a tight-knit community here. Morton is the same, only a little bigger.”

Gray warned that, come Halloween, Morton residents should be prepared for “The Force”. Traditionally, the family dresses in Star Wars costumes, while Gray performs the Imperial March on euphonium.

“Garrett plays euphonium, so I may have him accompany us while we trick-or-treat this year,” Gray said.

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