ALTAMONT — Members of the Altamont Community High School baseball team may have a field of dreams for several years to come thanks to a Queen of Hearts raffle sponsored by the ACHS Sports Boosters.

The raffle ended Saturday night when Walt Karnes of Beecher City picked the Queen of Hearts card hiding under No. 53, entitling him to $251,532.50 in prize money. He was presented his check on Monday afternoon while ACHS baseball team members were practicing.

“It’s been a three-year fundraiser,” ACHS Head Baseball Coach Alan Whitt said.

The purpose of the raffle was to raise enough money to buy lighting for the baseball diamond located behind the high school. The ACHS Sports Boosters and Karnes split the winnings collected from the raffle.

“It really exceeded our expectations. Local businesses really helped out by selling tickets. It’s been a lot of work especially since it went really big.

“We had a lighting engineer draw up the plans for our lights. There is going to be lights on six poles,” Whitt said.

Casing to support the new light poles are strategically placed around the field. Whitt said the lights should be installed within the next couple of weeks if weather permits.

“We already have a night game scheduled,” Whitt said.

He said the lights are all LED and shouldn’t take as much electricity as older conventional field lighting systems.

Whitt said not only did they have enough money to buy a lighting system for the baseball diamond, other facility improvements are also in the plans.

“It will allow us to upgrade the baseball facility and more,” Whitt said. “One major improvement is a sprinkler system for our grass.”

He said other improvements will be announced at a later date.

“The money should set up the baseball program for awhile. Baseball has always been self-funded in the fall, so part of the money is going to help with the self-funding part, hopefully, for years and years to come.”

He said he wants to see the money put to good use down the road.

“We are going to set it up for future coaches to be able to handle the maintenance of everything,” Whitt said.

Charles Mills can be reached at or by phone at 217-347-7151 ext. 126.

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Charles Mills is reporter and videographer for the Effingham Daily News. A 1983 graduate of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, he worked as senior video editor for a Nashville television station. He is a native of Vandalia.