By Jan Schultz
The Imperial Republican
With some city officials wanting to keep a main street lot available for retail expansion, the city council and fire department are looking at other possible sites for a new fire hall.
That search took them to Tuesday’s CCS board of education meeting, where the north end of the school-owned Wellington football field was discussed as a possible location.
Based on the discussion, the school board is taking it into consideration.
The school board’s facilities committee plans to meet in the coming weeks, and discuss it again with the city/IVFD at its August board meeting.
The fire hall discussion was part of a 50-minute meeting that also included hiring a fourth grade teacher, action on budget details and reports.
City council member John Arterburn opened the fire hall discussion, noting they are exploring possibilities for location of a new facility.
“We are on a fact-finding thing,” Arterburn said.
“We just want to see if you are interested because we are looking for a place to build a new fire hall,” he said.
He supports keeping the Broadway lot between 7th and 8th open for future downtown retail expansion.
The city and school have worked well together in the past, Arterburn said, mentioning their joint construction of the pool/concession stand and lockerroom project.
He also said the school and fire department serve the same constituents. With that in mind, Arterburn suggested the board might even consider donating the north end of the football field for the fire hall.
“We’d like to have enough room that we could grow,” he said.
The city and fire department officials at the meeting indicated they weren’t interested in all of the property, which would include the Wellington building to the south.
“If there’s an area on the north end of the football field we can work with you on, it would be a big improvement,” Arterburn said.
“I just think it would be a great place to have it,” he added.
School board member Sheila Stromberger asked what was the preference of the IVFD.
Fire Chief Nick Schultz said, for the long term, the football field site probably would mean a better facility for the fire department, considering future expansion. However, some IVFD members would like to locate the hall on the Broadway lot as originally planned, he said.
Changing plans for the fire hall now to another location will delay the building progress, he said, likely meaning a bond vote pushed back to the May 2014 Primary.
“Some would like to see the project move along faster,” Schultz said.
The fire chief said safety is also a concern, and felt an East 12th St. exit for fire trucks off the football field site would also delay traffic less than on Broadway.
Several school board members said the city’s inquiry should be considered.
Gregg Smith noted the school doesn’t have as much need for the Wellington field as it used to. Plans are to move the junior high football games to the 9th St. field this fall, but the Shorthorns would still practice on the Wellington field.
“We should give it serious discussion and perhaps come back at you” with any concerns or interest, Smith added.
Based on discussion, the school will also need to research the legalities of selling the property, versus donating it.
If the transaction happens, it wouldn’t be the first time the school and city have been involved in a land deal.
The long-planned fire hall site on Broadway, and all of the current city complex in that block, was purchased by the city for $22,000 from the school in an auction. That’s where the previous K-4 school building stood, and was eventually torn down by the city.
Also attending Tuesday’s meeting were council member J.D. Reeder, Clerk/Administrator Jo Leyland, Community Development Director Jason Tuller and IVFD members Brad Dillan and Rob Browning.
Fourth grade teacher hired
Rita Nickel of Lyons, Neb., was hired as a fourth grade teacher for 2013-14.
She will replace Gary Patch, who retired at the end of the past school year.
After graduating from the University of Nebraska-Kearney in May 2000 with an elementary ed. degree and endorsement in early childhood, Nickel has taught at Omaha Nation Public School in Macy. Last school year, she was the Intervention Project Administrator and the SFA reading facilitator. Most of her time, 12 years, at Omaha Nation was as a third grade teacher.
Nickel also earned a Masters in School Administration (P-12) in May 2011 from Wayne State College.
In other action at the meeting, the board voted to increase spending authority for the district’s contribution to employee retirement and for the general budget. Both increases were for two percent.
Supt. Brad Schoeppey noted that doesn’t mean the board will increase those expenditures. He said state law allows them to do so if it is needed.
During his report, Activities Director Troy Hauxwell noted they offered the 9th grade volleyball coaching position to Celeste May. No responses were received for the open assistant coaching positions for football and track vacated by Chris Sander.
Hauxwell also noted, starting July 15, the Longhorn gym floor will be refinished with a new Longhorn logo painted in the center of the floor by Armando Villarreal.
Refinishing of the Shorthorn gym floor will follow. Both gyms will be inaccessible during the work.