Solar power at stadium to be installed this spring

The solar panels are tentatively set to be set in the northwest corner of the practice field, near the marquee sign.

The solar panels are tentatively set to be set in the northwest corner of the practice field, near the marquee sign.

By Marcie Klomp

Facilities Director Larry Trende presented three bids to Howard-Winneshiek School Board members for a solar power system at the football stadium.

Contractors bidding on the project are Kitchen Construction (Owner of company is board member James Kitchen.), Decorah Electric Inc. and Blake Electric. Trende told board members, “Kitchen Construction came in five percent cheaper than anyone else.” That bid is for $92,907, or $3.10 per kilowatt. The others were $3.30 and $3.50 per kilowatt. Rebates are also available.

The solar panels would be put in the northwest corner of the practice field. One system would be for the marque sign. The other system would encompass the stadium lights, the stadium itself and two sheds. Trende expects the project to be completed this spring.

The system should be paid for in 14.5 years, at the longest. With a 25-year warranty on the panels, it is a great return on the district’s money.

Trende is hoping by this time next year, he will be ready to put solar power at the Kessel, K-8 and senior high buildings. Currently the monthly electric bill at Kessel Kids is between $3,000-4,000. The K-8 and high school are on the same system, which costs $10,000-12,000 per month. A system for the K-8 and high school would cost about $2 million.

Other board members had a few more questions, so the matter was tabled until next month.

• In other business from the meeting, each board member gave a report on their experiences in the district in the past month. Karlos McClure had not visited any classrooms but had attended quite a few sporting events. “Attendance is pretty good. Sportsmanship has been good from players, coaches and fans, for the most part.”

Kitchen stated he had been to classes in Cresco and Lime Springs. “It was fun. I’ve also been in the public talking to people about things.”

Duane Bodermann admitted he was having a hard time accepting the board’s decision to close the Elma campus, although he himself also voted to close the school. “I’ve spent the past month trying to find peace. There are times you question what you do.” But then he started looking again at all the reasons for bringing the students together. He took solace in a bus driver’s observance, “This really is the best thing for the kids. It’ll be tough times for us [parents/adults].”

Doug Berg agreed. “I appreciate where Duane is coming from. We made some big decisions in the last month. It’s tough for us, too.”

Board President Scott Fortune attended a Secondary Career and Technical Education task force meeting. “The intent is to guide students who are not four-year inclined, but more inclined for a technical degree.” He added, today there are many well-paying careers which require one or two years attendance at a community college or technical school. Most jobs today require some after high school graduation training.

• Josh Shimak was introduced as the new Spanish long-term substitute.

• The Iowa fire marshal visited the district right before Christmas. One violation remedy will be very visible, especially to students. The district was written up for having too much stuff on classroom walls. The ordinance says only 20 percent of the walls can be covered with paper. Couches being used in Cresco need to be fire retardent. Trende concluded, “We are addressing all the fire marshal issues.”

• The second reading regarding early retirement was approved. Carver said there were 18 individuals eligible.

• The committee looking into renaming the district (Kitchen and Bodermann) want to get the students involved in the process. The district is very confusing. Howard-Winneshiek School District also serves some Chickasaw students; Crestwood is the high school and K-8 name in Cresco; Cresco is the town where the high school is located; and Cadets refers to all students. Again, confusing.

• Thais Folta, a lawyer with the Joseph Braun office, explained to board members what is considered a special meeting and what the Iowa statue is regarding buses going into another district.

Some folks from Elma were wondering if another district’s bus would be able to come into the town to pick up students who want to open-enroll out. Basically, the school where a family wants to open-enroll into needs to make the first contact.

• The board voted to accept the quote from Custom Alarm for $16,330.15 to update the security cameras at the High School and K-8 building.

• The next school board meeting will be Feb. 10 at Elma.


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