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A-R board OKs resolution to sell Ringsted school

Razing part of deal

October 22, 2012
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

ARMSTRONG?- It will cost the Armstrong-Ringsted School District no more than $100,000 to get rid of the former Ringsted school building.

That was the deal the A-

R Board of Education agreed on last night. After nearly two years of trying to decide whether the building was a white elephant or hidden treasure, the board did the safe thing for itself and the City of Ringsted by agreeing to sell it to Michael Sjoblom of Michaelson Construction - someone who has the equipment to tear it down which was part of the agreement.

Article Photos

A place that has been filled with fans and been the site for several plays on the stage, the Ringsted gym is closing in on its final days.
EDN file photo

An 11th-hour attempt this last summer by the Save the Ringsted School committee, a group of Ringsted citizens, several of whom were present Monday night, wasn't able to put together a plan that could assure the board it would be able to take over the building as a good steward.

In the discussion that preceded the board's decision, Jim Boyer, board president, pegged costs of anywhere from $2,000 to $3,000 per month to heat the building and provide utilities. Even then, safety of the building could not be ensured, said Boyer, given recent incidents of vandalism.

"What I'm trying to do is create a sense of urgency for the board," said Boyer, who reminded them of mice, rodents and vandalism that could do damage. He also pointed to a broken window and an air-conditioning unit that was kicked in. He said the roof had also leaked in the past.

Superintendent Matt Berninghaus estimated it could cost anywhere from $70,000 to $100,000 for asbestos removal, and that Michaelsons was okay if the district removed air conditioners and playground equipment.

Berninghaus outlined a possible timeline for disposition of the Ringsted property:

n Approve asbestos abatement immediately at a cost of up to $100,000 - a cost that could be covered by the district's physical plant and equipment levy.

n Approve transfer of the building and land to Sjoblom, also immediately.

n Approve an auction of the building contents as early as Nov. 3.

n Abatement of asbestos by Nov. 22.

n The next board meeting would be Nov. 26 during which the board could have a public hearing and transfer ownership of the building.

"This is something the board has worked on for almost two years now," Boyer said, holding open as an option that on Nov. 26 the board could vote to not give the building to Michaelson Excavating, Sjoblom's company, and instead give it to the Save the Ringsted School committee.

"We've had some offers that we've turned down because we didn't feel they would be good stewards," Boyer said.

While the district won't make money on the deal - in fact it will pay for asbestos abatement to give it away - it will save taxpayers $300,000-

$600,000, the cost of demolition, a cost Sjoblom will pick up as part of the deal. In exchange, Sjoblom will get the 12 acres around the building.

The board approved the resolution for disposition of the building with the following provisions:

n The district pick up the cost of asbestos abatement - up to $100,000.

n The district remove equipment.

n Sjoblom demolishes the building.

n The district will guarantee a warranty deed, abstract and title.

n Closing be done within 90 days.

When Boyer asked about the reason for having Sjoblom demolish the building written into the agreement, Berninghaus said it was so that responsibility wouldn't fall back on the district. And board member Jen Von Bank added that there was no way to ensure the City of Ringsted didn't get stuck with that cost, other than to have the board transfer the property to a responsible party.

The board unanimously approved resolutions for disposition of the building and for asbestos abatement up to $100,000. The board also approved having an auction of the building contests Nov. 3.

The board also approved an innovative and early start calendar for the 2013-14 school year. The calendar will allow classes to start before Sept. 1. The board also approved a modified allowable growth application for dropout/at-risk programs.

Also approved were contracts and resignations and appointing Williams & Company of Spencer as district auditor.



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