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BEA to sell building to ‘Bago

By Staff | Oct 21, 2018

The Blue Earth Area School Board voted at their meeting last Monday night to proceed with plans to sell the former Winnebago School building to the city of Winnebago.

The school building is currently being leased by the district to the Southern Plains Educational Cooperative. However, that group has purchased a building in Fairmont and will be moving there in the fall of 2019.

Representatives of the BEA School Board and the city of Winnebago have been meeting concerning the possible uses of the building, School Board chairman Jesse Hough said.

“Superintendent Gough and I will give you (board members) and update on where we at with the discussion during his superintendent’s report and my chairman’s report,” Haugh said.

However, Winnebago businessman Bob Weerts was at the meeting and spoke to the board duringthe public comments portion of the meeting, before the superintendent and chairman reports.

Weerts explained that Winnebago has plans to turn the former school building into a vo-tech school, along with a child care center and other possible city-operated entities.

“We are pressing on with this,” Weerts said. “I have talked with both Riverland and SCC (area vo-tech colleges) and they both say they want to jump right in and be part of this.”

Weerts says they plan to have classes on truck driving, welding, electrical, plumbing, or whatever people want.

“Do you people know that an electrician or plumber with two years experience can be a teacher at a vo-tech,” Weerts asked the board members. “I’ve already talked to a couple who are ready to come and teach here.”

Weerts added that child care is a “hot button topic” right now.

“We plan to have a child care center there, and since we already have the space and a certified kitchen, it should work well,” he said.

Superintendent Gough said he had met with Winnebago city administrator Chris Ziegler and he had shared some of the building operational costs over the past two years, as well as a list of the deferred maintenance items that may be needed to be done.

“We have also been having attorney David Frundt look into the issues of clearing up the title and determining the property lines,” Gough said. “So we have set the wheels in motion.”

However, Weerts asked the board for a decision on whether they would consider selling the building to the city as soon as possible.

“It all has to do with us getting grant money to proceed with this project,” Weerts said. “We would like to have this done by Dec. 15, in order to get before the state legislature’s next session. We have a lot to do soon, in order to make this happen. So, the faster the better.”

Board members expressed support of the project but had some questions about other concerns.

One is that Southern Plains Educational Cooperative is going to be using the building until next September or October. Another concern was whether there would be any financial obligations to the school district after the sale.

Weerts said they would work with SPEC as to when they want to leave. And he said there would be no financial obligations.

Winnebago city councilman Scott Robertson was also at the meeting and said the city would let the school still have gymnastics in the gymnasium and use the baseball field for games.

While they first suggested making a decision on the matter at their November meeting, after some more discussion, the BEA Board voted unanimously to go ahead with the sale, with a price of $2, and instructed the superintendent to proceed with having documentation prepared.

At first, the motion, made by board member Amber Patten, was simply to proceed with negotiating the sale to the city of Winnebago. But, other board members thought a price should be included.

Weerts suggested one dollar, but Patten joked two would be better.

Weerts put a five dollar bill on the board’s table and called it good.