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School board approves Sioux Falls design firm for Joe Quintal updates

Joe Quintal Field is one step closer to featuring a field turf.

The Mitchell Board of Education approved the selection of Sioux Falls-based Stockwell Engineers firm to design the $1.2 million renovation of the Mitchell High School track and installation of a field turf at Joe Quintal Field. The decision was made Thursday night during the board's meeting at the Mitchell Middle School.

But before approval, the project was met with several loaded questions by the five-person board — many of which included funding concerns.

The school district began "talking seriously" about the project approximately a year ago, according to Superintendent Joe Graves. And in October, Graves, Activities Director Cory Aadland, Business Manager Steve Culhane and Director of Buildings and Grounds John Sieverding met with three design firms before selecting Stockwell.

"We felt Stockwell Engineering was best. They have a great deal of experience in this and they're doing a lot of the projects," Graves said, noting the firm will probably be doing similar projects in Aberdeen and Brandon.

Graves and Aadland noted the project is well worth the price as the field sees extensive use by both the Mitchell and Dakota Wesleyan University football teams, as well as the Mitchell High School Marching Band. And by the end of the year, the natural grass surface is of poor quality, they said. But with the field turf installation, the field can be used for "many more" activities.

Funding for the $1.2 million project would include $400,000 from the Mitchell School District capital outlay fund, $400,000 from enhanced lease revenues with Dakota Wesleyan University — which also uses the field for football and other athletics — and $400,000 in private contributions.

So far, $155,000 has been pledged to the project.

The Mitchell Athletic Boosters has pledged $50,000 to the project, as well as Avera Queen of Peace. BankWest has also pledged to donate $50,000. The final contributor is McDonald's, which pledged $5,000, along with four annual fundraisers.

For the remaining $245,000 needed for private donations, a "working group of administrators" is seeking to raise the funds.

But board member Lacey Musick is concerned about finding the remaining funds, she said, questioning Graves and Aadland about what would happen should the contributions not come in.

"We haven't officially voted 'yes' on this project. I have to say that I think it's a great idea and I think it's a great to work with Dakota Wesleyan and bringing this project in, but my concern is cost," Musick said.

But Graves reassured Musick and the board he is confident in getting the remaining contributions, as there are several sources in the works. Graves said there is another potential full sponsorship on its way and in the near future a fundraising initiative with a goal of $100,000 will begin. And finally, Graves said he has two grant requests out — one for $5,000 and another for potentially between $25,000 to $50,000.

"We're committed to finding that full $400,000," Graves said. "Additionally, people often say once you approve something you're not going to get additional contributions. We've found that to be the reverse. Contributions came in much more heavily after the board approved the project and started construction."

'Unlimited use' with field turf

Following the approval by the school board, Aadland was relieved and excited.

While he said there's still a "lot of steps" yet to take before the ultimate end goal, Aadland said he's excited to continue working on getting the field turf and track renovation.

"We're starting to see a lot of momentum in the community as far as people have approached me and want to see it go forward," he said. "With the current field, it can only take so much use. This will give us unlimited use of it."

Aadland cited events such as football bowls, youth football clinics, soccer games and marching band competitions could be seen on the field at Joe Quintal, where such events can't be found now due to the natural grass.

But should the renovation be approved, Aadland said the field will be extended, Aadland said, allowing the soccer teams to practice and play in Joe Quintal. This is a "big benefit" to the soccer teams, Aadland said, and will also provide an opportunity to Mitchell to host the state tournament.

"With that stadium atmosphere, we'd be a great place to host state soccer," he said.

And Aadland already has additional plans on his mind for renovation beyond the field turf and track replacement. He would like to look at altering the field event layout, especially for track and field events, he said, noting that location of the long jump and triple jump pits are not "spectator friendly."

The additional field alterations are just ideas at this point, he said, and will be considered as the project moves forward.

"While we're doing all this work, now's the time to hopefully make some adjustments to overall layout to improve overall facility as well," Aadland said.

Construction for the renovation will begin in May, after the track and field season is complete.

Personnel

As part of the board's consent agenda, which includes open enrollment and claims, the board approved the following personnel changes:

• New Hires: Deanna Prill, piano accompanist for show choir, compensation of $15 per hour, effective Oct. 10; Douglas Janzing, custodian at Mitchell High School, compensation of $13 per hour for eight hours per day, effective Nov. 6; Cade Carpenter, assistant middle school wrestling coach, compensation of $1, effective 2017-18 school year; Teri Morgan, assistant girls basketball coach, compensation of $3,534, effective 2017-18 school year; Breydon Mlady, assistant wrestling coach, compensation of $1, effective 2017-18 school year; Lisa Beck, title VII tutor, compensation of $15.14 per hour for 7.75 hours per day, effective Nov. 20.

• Resignations: Keith Christensen, cross country coach, effective the end of the 2017-18 school year.

• Mitchell Technical Institute New Hires: Kody Kracht, custodian, compensation of $12.50 per hour, effective Oct. 25; Tammy Gilbert, Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) instructor, compensation of $45,716, effective Dec. 4.

Other business

In other regular business, the board:

• Heard board member reports.

• Heard a superintendent's report, in which Graves continued going over the district's report card received by the South Dakota Department of Education earlier this school year. The report was continued from the board's previous meeting in October.

• Heard no public commentary.

• Toured the Mitchell Middle School.

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