Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, June 12, 2000

HLWW task force determined to find the 'best site' for new school

By Andrea Vargo

Frustrated, but determined to see the situation through a little longer, the Howard Lake-Waverly Winsted Site Task Force will continue to look for a location for the new high school that will be acceptable to voters.

Thursday, 10 of the 12 task force members met to try and work out a solution to the problems that are springing up after the decision at the last task force meeting to have the cities of Winsted and Howard Lake make proposals for school sites.

One board member stated that ever since there has been a possibility that the school might be located next to one of the cities, it has been a "my town - your town" issue for residents.

As Co-chair Joe Campbell told Co-chair Jack Littfin, "When (at the last meeting) the people from Howard Lake talked about the best site for a new school, they were talking about the Howard Lake site.

The Winsted people were doing the same thing, Campbell said.

Littfin said, "We all know where the best site is (Winsted)."

But the question Littfin had difficulty answering was, "Will it pass a referendum?"

"I'm frustrated. The best site is not (in Winsted)," said Catherine Jackson, task force member.

"The community support has been coming out of Howard Lake and Waverly for years," said Deb Gatz, task force member.

"Just look at the scholarship list," she said.

Campbell stated that the group could write new criteria, but there is nothing wrong with what it has, and it won't make any difference.

"I don't like the Howard Lake site. The Winsted site is beautiful, but it won't fly (with voters), Campbell said.

Linda Schroeder of Schroeder Communications tried to keep the group focused, in order to make some decisions.

In a review of the previous experience with Victor Township supervisors, the task force decided to be better prepared, if it approaches them with another site.

For the unity of the school district, it was felt that more work needs to be done to find a site that is both acceptable to the township supervisors and won't tear the district apart.

The need to impress upon the supervisors the importance of a site between the two cities is evident, said task force members.

There is fear that a site in one city or the other will not meet with approval of the majority of voters.

If that happens several times, the district will probably not get a new high school, and therefore, it will not be able to compete with Dassel-Cokato, Maple Lake, Glencoe-Silver Lake, and Watertown-Mayer for students, said several members.

The general feeling of the task force seemed to be that district residents should talk to the Victor Township supervisors and give an indication of their feelings about the country site.

"I think you are up against a wall," said task force member Randy Heuer.

He doesn't think it likely the supervisors will change their minds, even with a new site, unless there is a huge groundswell of public opinion in favor of a country site.

It was noted that, perhaps, the task force hasn't created the perception of need for a new school. If it is understood that the need is there, perhaps there would be more push to get it done.

So, although the task force members are discouraged and tired, they agreed to keep trying, for the good of the district and its children.

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