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W’bago sells school building

By Staff | Apr 20, 2020

The former Winnebago School building was sold by the city to a veterans company located in Madelia, the highest of three bids received.

Veteran Enterprises, Ltd., based in Madelia, is the new owner of the former Winnebago School building following action taken by the Winnebago City Council at their meeting Tuesday evening, April 14.

The council had three bidders for the property. Veteran Enterprises offered two different proposals. Option A was for a one-time payment of $61,000. Option B was for $180,000, broken into $20,000 per year for four years with a balloon payment on the fifth year.

The Center for Educational Development (CED), based in Winnebago, offered $100.

Gold Nugget Properties, an investment property company based in Missouri, was the third bidder and offered $7,100.

During discussion the council quickly eliminated Gold Nugget Properties as members expressed a desire to deal with an entity which was located within the area.

Garth Carlson, the CEO of Veteran Enterprises, was present at the meeting and explained some of his plans for the building.

“We would like to set up MN Rec Therapy, LLC, which is a service-disabled-Veteran-owned small business. It is currently providing case management services to the fifth Judicial Veterans court,” Carlson explained. “I have discussed this with them and they would move in right away.”

His bid sheet outlined other services the company would like to provide for veterans, including temporary or transitional housing for veterans (depending on permitting), office space and computers for veterans to use, and counseling for veterans (possibly through the Veterans Administration).

“We would still have plenty of space for other possible businesses to move in,” Carlson said.

Speaking on behalf of CED, Renee Doyle noted the history CED had with the city.

“We have been working on this for six years,” she noted. “The idea was always to do something to bring people together.”

Winnebago resident Daren Barnett offered his thoughts.

“I am wondering if there isn’t a way these two groups could work together,” Barnett stated.

Carlson was open to that idea.

“We would be willing to work with Genesis. There is enough room for both of us,” Carlson said. “I believe our group would have better access to federal funding.”

The council then moved onto discussing the matter.

“The decision to sell it, and who to sell it to, are both very difficult decisions for me,” council member Rick Johnson commented.

Council member Jean Anderson expressed her concerns with the CED bid.

“I am worried the CED bid could still lay a lot of financial responsibility on the city,” she shared.

Anderson then made a motion to accept the Option A bid from Veteran Enterprises, LTD, in the amount of $61,000.

“I am making this motion in the hope they (Veteran Enterprises) will work with Genesis Classical Academy,” she commented.

Calvin Howard seconded the motion and it passed on a split voice vote.

“I hope everyone can work together and fulfill the dreams of many people,” council member Paul Eisenmenger remarked.

It should be noted the sale does include the outdoor basketball court and park adjacent to the school buildings but does not include the baseball field, which will remain the property of the city.

After the meeting, Carlson said he was excited for the opportunity to work with veterans and the public.

“While we want to help veterans reintegrate in society, we also want to work with the general public in any way we can,” Carlson stated. “And we will be in conversation with Genesis Classical Academy about their needs.”

Carlson also wanted to ask the general public for their input.

“If people have ideas we would love to hear them,” Carlson said. “They can email us at office@veteranenterprisesltd.com.”