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Board finalizes plan with firm for stadium

The Mitchell school board on Monday finalized an agreement with Puetz Corporation for architectural and construction management services for the building of a new $2.5 million stadium at Joe Quintal field.

All contract details were approved by the school district's attorney, said Superintendent Joe Graves.

Puetz will receive 10 percent of the project's total construction cost for the management and design services. Puetz Corporation will solicit competitive bids and oversee all aspects of the project, but will not bid on actual construction work.

The actual dollar amount of the contract won't be known until all bids are submitted and accepted, said board member Neil Putnam.

It was finally decided that there will be ample opportunity to stay within the targeted amount since the board has the power to accept or deny all segments as the project progresses.

Puetz Corporation spokesman Mark Puetz said demolition likely will be done in January, and actual construction will begin this spring as soon as frost leaves the ground.

Sept. 1 is the scheduled completion date for the project, "weather permitting," said Puetz.

Activities Director Geoff Gross said Mitchell's first home football game of the 2010 season is Sept. 3, against Brookings. If the stadium is not completed by Sept. 3, Brookings will host the game, he said.

Mitchell Athletic Booster Club President John Cersosimo said, "Most of our big events are at the football field and we're looking forward to a bigger concessions area for people to enjoy. We really feel we're going to benefit from it as a booster club."

The booster club has donated $15,000 to the stadium project.

After the meeting, business manager Steve Culhane said the district will pay 1.95 percent interest on the capital outlay certificates over a period of 15 years, making the total cost of the project about $2.9 million.

He said the bonds have not been sold yet, but noted that bond agent Doherty & Associates, Inc., called and said it had a buyer for the bonds and that "we should be receiving the money by Jan. 5."

While it's still possible the sale could fall through, that's highly unlikely, said Culhane, since the 1.95 percent is a premium paid to make the sale more attractive to prospective bondholders. School districts that have not offered such incentives have had a difficult time selling the zero percent tax credit bonds, Graves said.

Monday's meeting began with a quiet tribute to Mitchell High School student Jasmine Guevara, who died in a suspected murder case earlier this month.

Guevara's death was a loss to the school district and the city of Mitchell, said board President Dana Price.

"To quote my daughter," said Price, " 'this just doesn't happen in Mitchell.' I think I speak for all of us when I say we wish the very best for Jasmine Guevara's family."

Price then requested a moment of silence.

Graves, prior to his report to the board, added that Guevara's death was difficult for Mitchell High students, faculty and administration. He said the loss was handled capably by all, and especially by the school's guidance counselors.

Also Monday, the board:

• Extended its condolences to the Ethan School District for the recent death of Superintendent Terry Mathis to illness.

• Approved school exemption requests for two students who will be home-schooled.

• Heard from board member Theresa Kriese, who reported that the medical laboratory technology program at Mitchell Technical Institute was reaccredited for a maximum term of seven years, "which is quite an accomplishment." Kriese said the approval spoke well for the program's quality.

Price said the school's power lineman and gas technologies programs are enjoying a greater mix of older and younger students. The blend is giving a greater focus to classes, he said.

• Heard more commentary by Graves on the school district report card. Graves said an increasing number of Mitchell teachers are earning master's degrees and that "for the first time, 55 percent of teachers have a master's degree or better." Two district teachers have 41 to 45 years' experience, he said. All but two teachers are highly qualified, according to No Child Left Behind standards, said Graves.

• Heard from Mitchell resident Steve Sibson, who repeated arguments given before the Mitchell City Council that the American Civil Liberties Union has deprived Americans of their First Amendment rights by championing the separation of church and state.

• Approvedthe following personnel items: New hire: Louis Stransky, building maintenance and grounds, $11 an hour, effective Nov. 24. New hires (extracurricular): Jared Richter, volunteer, high school wrestling program, compensation, $1 (for insurance purposes); Patrick Larson, seventh-grade boys' basketball coach, $1,615 -- both effective for the 2009-2010 school year.