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$95,000 grant put on hold

By Staff | Jun 21, 2008

A $95,000 USDA grant to fix the roof at the old Delavan High School is tied up over a dispute on the type of material to be used. Members of DHS, Inc. have hired an attorney to provide assistance.

A group trying to fix the roof of the old Delavan High School is finding out it’s not quite that easy.

DHS, Inc. volunteers have held numerous fundraisers for the project, raising about $2,000 earlier this year.

The United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development recently came to the aid and awarded a “conditional grant” of $95,000 to help pay for repairs.

All was progressing well until the USDA determined the school is a historical building. Then, as required by law, the Minnesota State Historical Preservation Office stepped in.

“It’s been a major struggle,” says Steve Scheid, past president of DHS, Inc. “We just want to fix the leaky roof.”

The project has been put on hold and DHS, Inc. has hired an attorney to assist with their case at a meeting and any other actions to resolve the matter.

The group’s attorney, David Hatteberg of Chanhassen, says repairing the roof met USDA’s criteria to receive the grant.

“You get it if the funds are available and the project improves the economic and social welfare of the community. USDA said ‘yes’,” says Hatteberg.

At issue is what type of roof to install.

Federal and state officials prefer one that is constructed of rubber, like the original, while DHS, Inc. desires steel because it’s within their budget and more durable.

Hatteberg says a rubber roof would add $15,000 to $20,000 to the cost.

“We want a roof we can pay for and will last a long time for the benefit of the community,” Hatteberg says.

Over the past two years, donors have pledged about $40,000 for the project.

“Twenty thousand dollars more may not sound like a lot, but to a small town like this it could take several years to raise,” Hatteberg adds. The group is hoping some political assistance in their corner will help their cause. State Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, and state Sen. Julie Rosen, R-Fairmont, have gotten involved, as well as 1st District U.S. Rep. Tim Walz’s office.

While the state is insisting repairs not interfere with the building’s historical features, some renovation work already has been done to the exterior.

Windows have been replaced and sealed, says Scheid, and insulation has been added for energy conservation.

Hatteberg says an “informal meeting” with USDA and state officials has been scheduled for July 10. He says a three-ring binder outlining the school’s history has been assembled.

“It tells about the obstacles we are trying to overcome,” says Hatteberg.

The building currently houses a couple of businesses and is used for community plays and other functions.

“We’ve been working real hard on this and we’re going to fight as hard as we can,” says Scheid.

Hatteberg attended school in Delavan through fourth grade, then moved. His family still lives in the community.

He says keeping the school open is very important to the residents.

“We have a lot of people working on this. Everybody brings something to the table to get this done,” Hatteberg says.