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Board OKs stadium replacement

The Mitchell school board gave its unanimous approval Monday to a plan to replace the aging stadium at Joe Quintal Field. (Republic File Photo)

The Mitchell school board gave its unanimous approval Monday to a plan to replace the aging stadium at Joe Quintal Field.

If bond financing goes according to plan, the 1,700-seat football stadium will be ready next September, said Mitchell Superintendent Joe Graves.

The board approved a proposal to select the Puetz Corporation as the provider for architecture and construction management services for a new $2.5 million stadium.

Graves told the board that the time is right to replace the 70-year-old stadium.

"It continues to deteriorate, current construction costs are reasonable and we have two possible lines of credit for the project," he said.

According to Graves, Monday's was the first of two agreements. The next step will be to draft the formal documents for architectural and construction management services and then bring those back before the board.

The agreement approved Monday sets the remuneration to Puetz Corporation at 9.8 percent of overall project costs.

As an "at risk" manager, Puetz is essentially assuring the district that it will assume the liability of completing the project on time and within budget parameters. Puetz will be responsible for selecting and managing all subcontractors.

Graves said he will continue to seek a donor for naming rights to the new stadium, but demolition and construction must begin soon if the stadium is to be ready in time for next season.

"The district can't wait any longer if it is to take advantage of a good construction climate and low bond rates," he said.

The federal government has authorized the sale of up to $2.5 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds (federal stimulus tax credit bonds) that originally were to have a zero percent cost to the school district. But the tax credit alone has not been attractive to draw the interest of investors, said school district bond agent Thomas Grimmond, senior vice president of Dougherty and Company, of Sioux Falls.

Grimmond, said Graves, recommended the district make the $2.5 million bond offering more attractive to large investors by combining it with a $2.8 million bond offering by Aberdeen Schools and by additionally paying a 2 percent interest rate.

There is no way of forecasting how enticing the bonds will appear to investors, said Graves.

If those QSCB bonds don't sell, the district has the alternative option of selling Build America Bonds with a 3.5 percent interest rate. The latter bonds have proven more attractive to investors, he said.

Demolition will be completed this winter and construction will begin around April 1, weather permitting. Graves said the stadium won't be ready for the start of football season. The earliest it will be available is Sept. 1, and the football season begins a week or two before that.

That time-limited reality already has Activities Director Geoff Gross working to reschedule Mitchell's early home games, he said.

Gross said earlier Monday that a board OK for a new stadium "will be a positive step. A new stadium offers numerous possibilities for our football and track teams, our marching band and other current stadium users."

The stadium will offer increased seating and accessibility and better facilities for crowd control, Gross said.

Wayne Puetz of Puetz Construction said the threemonth period between demolition and construction will be used to finalize the design of the stadium complex. Financing arrangements also must also be completed before construction can begin.

Graves said the stadium design will essentially follow the original conceptual drawings presented several months earlier by the Puetz Corporation.

"It will be 98 percent of that plan, but there could be some minor changes to accommodate additional storage or other needs," he said.

Also Monday night, the board approved a memorandum of understanding between Puetz Development LLC, MTI and the MTI Foundation for a lease agreement for student housing.

The agreement states that Puetz Development will build three on-campus student apartment buildings over a five-year period, with an optional fourth building, depending on rental demand.

Middle school social studies teachers Justin Zajic and Kate Kramer and language arts teacher Ann Moege demonstrated to the board some practical laptop applications they use to enhance student learning.

Kramer and Zajic demonstrated how their students use Google Earth, a free Internet program, to learn geography and to understand ecological challenges, such as the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest; rising sea levels that threaten Venice, Italy; and the threat of desertification as the Sahara Desert encroaches into overgrazed land at its borders.

Moege showed how students use the computer programs to improve their writing, communicate with teachers and to share their understanding of literature with classmates and students from other schools.

The board also approved:

• Two home schooling and several enrollment applications from families with children temporarily in the district.

• The selection of Neil Putnam and Dana Price as voting delegate and alternate, respectively, to the Associated School Boards of South Dakota Delegate Assembly. The assembly meets annually to determine which issues should be presented to lawmakers at the upcoming Legislative session.

Board members agreed not to support the ASBSD planks that called for state funding for accredited pre-kindergarten programs, and voluntary common core academic standards. Of the latter, Graves said a common national standard would be lower than current state standards.

• The following personnel items: New hire: Wendy Dirks, food service at the middle school six hours a day at $8.78 an hour, effective Oct. 27. Resignation: Pat Beznik, assistant middle school wrestling, effective for the current school year.

• Change orders for construction at MTI with a net cost of $5,483.

• A lease with building owner Rodney Tuttle for a 5,000-square-foot building that will be used for MTI lab space to accommodate a class on large-engine repair that is part of the agriculture program.