Herald and Journal, March 1, 1999

Task force hears high school site proposals from Howard Lake

By Andrea Vargo

HLWW school district's Long Range Facilities Task Force heard a presentation Wednesday from the City of Howard Lake about four sites it thinks are appropriate for a new high school.

Two of the sites are adjacent to the southern city limits, a third is north of the railroad tracks, and the fourth is a couple of miles south of Howard Lake on Wright Co. Rd. 6.

A private proposal from Winsted representatives had been given to the task force a couple months ago.

The task force will meet again Thursday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. in HLWW media center to hear more information about the Winsted proposal, which also offers several site choices.

Howard Lake Mayor Gerry Smith said his city has offered to waive water access connection (WAC) and sewer access connection (SAC) fees to connect the school and has the ability to serve each site with sewer and water, said City Engineer Brad DeWolf.

Part of Smith's presentation went beyond the site selection information requested by the task force, said Superintendent Riley Hoheisel.

Smith took the opportunity to state the city's case for keeping the school in a central location in the district.

He stressed travel time for students, parents, volunteers, and teachers that are shared between the schools and the increased probability of accidents.

Expenses for a facility that is not central in the district would be a lot higher, he said, and produced charts in support of that statement.

Financial support from Howard Lake and Waverly organizations total over $275,000 in the past five years, and some of that might not be available if the school were not close to where it is now, he said.

Even a small decrease would amount to a lot of money in lost donations over 30 years, he said.

With information supplied by the district, Smith showed that 75 percent of the students come from locations that would be closer to a Howard Lake site.

He cited the Minnesota State Demographer 1997 Population and Household Estimates report that shows Howard Lake with a growth rate of 23.1 percent, while Winsted's is 13.4 percent.

Smith stated the school should be located where the most growth will likely take place.

He was supported by Waverly Mayor Charles Bush, who stated that Waverly is also experiencing a fair amount of growth.

After Smith's presentation, the task force decided it had more information than it had counted on.

"We need to take a week to 'sleep' on this information, and come back to talk about some time lines," said architect Bob Abendroth.

School board and task force member Randy Heuer said that in all fairness, the task force should listen to anything more the Winsted representatives would like to add, considering the length of Smith's presentation.

This will put the task force somewhat behind its desired schedule, but members agreed that Winsted needs a chance to be heard.

Task force member Jack Littfin asked, "Are we going to open this up to the public to make site proposals? Maybe there is a farmer out there who would like to throw his hat into the ring with a suitable site proposal."

Abendroth said, "You would hate to overlook a good site within the district."

The task force will meet again Thursday, March 4 to hear Winsted's proposal.

The Waverly mayor also insisted that his city be allowed to give input at the same time, even though it doesn't have the ability to field a site. His request was granted.

Next week, the Herald will take a more in-depth look at all proposed sites.

The task force encourages anyone else with a viable site for the new school to contact Hoheisel at 320-543-3521.

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