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White Lake daycare up for special election

WHITE LAKE — Should the city of White Lake continue running a day care center?

City council member Rodney Maine has circulated a petition to put the issue before voters, which will be in front of a special election Tuesday in the Aurora County town of 375 people.

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A yes vote on the ordinance at hand would prohibit the city from owning, operating or supporting a day care in any way, while a no vote on the ballot would leave things as they currently are -- the city has run a day care for the last two years. The election will be held at White Lake City Hall.

Maine says it's an unnecessary intervention by the city into private business.

"Private business should take care of private business and the city should stay out that," Maine said. "Other day cares can't compete against the city."

White Lake Mayor Russ Ehlers supports having a day care in the city and he said the town plays a necessary role in making sure residents have that service as a way to keep the community viable.

"When young families move to town, they're looking for things like schools and day care services," Ehlers said. "That's just stuff that you need. It's hard to imagine not having it."

Ehlers said both the City Council — even with an objection from Maine — and the school board have supported the municipal day care center.

When the city first opened a day care two years ago, there were no other options in town and the business operated it out of a South Dakota Governor's House facility. Now, the White Lake School has brought the day care into its building and Ehlers said the day care has helped facilitate Head Start and preschool programs for the school.

"It really is a win-win for the city and the school," Ehlers said. "It seems like it is foolish that we're even voting on it."

The day care can have as many as 30 children on a given day but averages 22 each day, up from just six when the day care first opened. The day care employs nine people, four of them in a full-time fashion.

There's also an argument regarding the profitability of the day care. The mayor says the day care is profitable but Maine says that matters little when the city is in the red overall.

The ballot question notes that the ordinance may subject the city to potential lawsuits and damages resulting from a breach of current agreements. Maine said the city has to spend thousands of dollars a year to go toward insurance, furthering the issues behind the day care.

The following elections will take place Tuesday:

Alpena: Two three-year seats on the city board of trustees are to be filled and four locals are vying for those positions. Dick Small, Daniel Jurgens, Darwin Ochsner and Steven Muilenburg are the candidates for the open seats. The election will be held at the Alpena Community Center.

Bridgewater: Two candidates are facing off for one two-year term in Ward III on the city council, as Kenneth E. Haugen and Lacey Weber will be on the ballot. Ward I councilor Jerry Paweltzki and Ward II's Bob Anderson are unopposed and will serve two-year terms. City residents will vote at the Bridgewater Fire Hall.

Delmont: Two candidates are running for a two-year term as mayor in Delmont, including Mae Gunnare and Adam Zolnowsky. In addition, three candidates are running for a two year term for Ward III alderperson. Those candidates are Elle Rice, Earla Strid and Rodney Geuther. Ward I aldermen Clark Will and Ward II alderman Todd Gross are unopposed for their two-year terms on the council. Voters will cast their ballots at the Delmont Community Center.

Ethan: Election will be held April 8. Joe Long and Gallus Thill are running for a three-year term on the city board of trustees, while Nancy Schoenfelder and Dale Meinke are running for a one-year term on the city board. Voting will take place at Ethan City Hall.

Platte: A two person race will be held for a city council spot in Ward III between incumbent Mitch Antonsen and Glenda Huggins. Huggins has since indicated that she would like to withdraw as a candidate from the race but the city's lawyers have said she will be on the ballot. The seat is a two-year term. Ward I councilor Joel Foxley, Ward II member Jerry Overweg and Ward III's Todd Spoelstra are all unopposed.

Scotland: Two candidates are running for one two-year term as alderman in Ward I. Incumbent Dick Behl and Tammy Rueb will run for the municipal seat. The election for Ward I voters will be held at the Scotland Fire Hall.

Tyndall: Three people are running for the two-year city council term in Ward III. Mike Elsberry, Larry Chester and Jane Larson are running for the position. Mayor David Vavruska and Ward II Councilor Mark Stoebner are running unopposed and will serve two year terms. The polls will be open at the Tyndall Auditorium.

White Lake: Two candidates are running for one two-year term on the city council in Ward II. Kelcie Stahl is against incumbent Jeff Thiry for the city slot. Ward I council member David Pursell is running unopposed for another two-year term on the council. The voting place will be at White Lake City Hall.

Winner: A three-way race for mayor of Winner will be held Tuesday. Incumbent Jess Keesis will be challenged by John Halverson and current city councilor Val Sherman. Races will also be held in three wards for city council. Clint Woods and Roger Root will challenge incumbent Dave Baker in Ward I, while incumbent Roger Farley and Jena Littau will face off in Ward II. Brad Schramm and incumbent Orville Lund will run for the Ward III council spot. The election will be held at the Tripp County 4-H Center.

Woonsocket: Two candidates are running for a two-year council seat in Ward II. Incumbent Brandon Goergen and Mike Kogel will face off in the election. Mayor Lindy Peterson, Ward I council member Richard Reider and Ward III council member Jim Steichen are all unopposed incumbents and will serve two-year terms. The election will be held at the Woonsocket Community Center.

School board elections:

Bridgewater-Emery: One candidate from the Bridgewater portion of the district will be selected to fill a three-year seat on the school board. Incumbent Dale Becker and Ken W. Glanzer are the two candidates on the ballot. John Janssen, representing the Emery portion of the district, was unopposed for another three-year term.

Special elections:

Bridgewater-Emery: A special election will be held regarding a five-year, $250,000 tax levy opt-out in the Bridgewater-Emery School District. The school's current four-year, $200,000 tax levy will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The district's registered voters in Hanson County will vote at the Emery gym, while the Hutchinson and McCook County district voters will vote at the Bridgewater gym lobby. An opt-out means a local government has made a decision to opt out of state-imposed limits on annual property tax increases. An opt-out allows local governments to collect more taxes per year than the state limits would otherwise allow.

Gregory: A special election will be held regarding a tax levy opt-out in the Gregory School District for $300,000 per year for the next three years. A "yes" vote on the ballot would raise the tax levy to the opt-out amount, while a "no" vote would leave the tax levy the same. School board members have cited budget cuts and a current budget deficit of $112,500 as primary reasons for opt-out proposal. A three-year, $300,000 opt-out plan for the school district failed in September 2013 by a 51-vote margin. The election will be held in the community room at the Gregory Memorial Auditorium.