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Students at work to design new lockers
By Paul Rignell
When voters in the St. Croix Falls School District approved a bond referendum last spring to cover $5.2 million in deferred maintenance projects, the package included plans to replace the high school’s student lockers.
Of all projects that received the go-ahead from voters last year, the high school lockers will be involving input from the students like none other.
Now in their second week on the task after the school year’s second semester began Jan. 16, students in teacher Paul Gilbert’s computer-aided design (CAD) course are drawing floor plans for the revamped locker area.
Gilbert noted the six students in his CAD II and III course worked as a group last week to take existing measurements of the locker area so they would know the space limitations for their floor plans.
They have been working more independently on those floor plans this week, on their class computers, and soon they will be studying the building codes that are set by federal and state regulations.
The six students are due to have each of their floor plan designs finished by Feb. 1 for presentation to Principal Peggy Ryan for administrative review. It will be another step in the process to have new lockers built and installed before the next school year begins next September.
To hear it from Principal Ryan and likely also from most students, the high school lockers have been long overdue for replacement.
“We need larger lockers (in this school),” the principal told the Standard Press. “Our middle school lockers are much larger than the high school lockers.”
She noted existing locker space can be especially tight in the winter months. “Students need to store books for seven classes … coats, boots and backpacks,” Ryan said. “One-third of our students are involved in sports in any given season, so that adds to the storage crunch.”
The high school curriculum has reached an era when all students are using computers to complete their work in all courses, and the students are also responsible for keeping those devices in their lockers when not in use.
“Our students cannot fit their school-issued electronic devices inside their cases in the locker without tilting them. This makes the device vulnerable to damage,” Principal Ryan said.
In the end, the revamped space will be more welcoming for all students.
“Prior to the referendum, the building was evaluated for a range of concerns, including use of the space,” the principal added. “The new layout will function more like a commons, with spaces for students to socialize and study. … We need to provide usable space for students. At lunch, and before or after school, our high school students are often sitting on the floor along the edge of the commons, or they are crowded in between the rows of lockers. We need to address all of those issues.”
Gilbert’s students in the CAD II and III course are mostly juniors and seniors including Saige Arechigo, Christian Gilchrist, Jacob McKinven, Keith Murphy, Jacob Peper and Joshua Skallet. So, some of them will be using new lockers next year that they are designing this winter.
“They’re taking a practical application and they will be able to see the end results,” Gilbert said. “They’re taking a real-world problem and creating a practical solution. They’re going to end up with a final, solid product.”
Principal Ryan commented more on the students’ involvement with the project.
“First, they know their needs,” she said. “Second, this is a good, practical application of advanced CAD skills.
“(Lastly), why wouldn’t you ask smart, capable students to assist in addressing a concern that they have voiced for many years?”
January 25, 2018
Sentencing of Hansen postponed
By Lynda Berg Olds
After last week’s headline: “Hansen to be sentenced Monday,” the public will likely be interested to know what has transpired since then. Virgil Hansen has not yet been sentenced on the three child abuse charges to which he pled no contest on Nov. 8, 2017. The court accepted that plea, finding him guilty of three felony counts, dismissing the other four felony sexual abuse charges.
It should be noted that these offenses go back to 2013, with the seven felony charges filed back in November of 2015. A jury trial was scheduled to begin on Nov. 6 of 2017, but on Oct. 25, 2017, a plea hearing was scheduled for Nov. 8. A pre-sentence investigation [PSI] was also ordered at that time and the PSI was filed on Dec. 20, 2017.
Then, on Jan. 24, 2018, court records show that Hansen’s attorney, Bruce Anderson, requested an “adjournment” from the Honorable Judge Scott Needham, who serves as the Chief Judge of the 10th Judicial District. An “adjournment” simply means “postponement” in this case. Bringing in this judge was done largely because most people in Polk County are at least somewhat familiar with Hansen, as he has been a public figure for a number of years in this area. Based on the severity of these charges, every effort is being made to ensure a fair trial.
Hansen maintained his position as the Clerk of the Town of Milltown until fairly recently, was a Fireman with the Milltown Fire Department for decades, was a Unity School bus driver and ran the Hansen Farms Milk Tournament [for decades as well].
On Jan. 25, the court records from Judge Needham to counsel regarding the defendant’s request for a continuance, the Judge said, “I’d like to consult with victims and determine their attitude regarding a modest continuance [three to four weeks]…the victims would like sentencing Monday [Jan. 29], but understand.”
On Jan. 30, the sentencing of convicted felon Virgil Hansen was set again. It will take place in Judge Needham’s Courtroom, here in Polk County, on Feb.19 at 3:00 p.m.
To date, Hansen remains free on his own recognizance, not being considered a flight risk. The two child abuse charges he pled no contest to [causing reckless harm to a child] each carry a prison term of up to 3.5 years. The other charge of causing mental harm to a child carries a maximum penalty of 12.5 years in prison. In total, Hansen is facing a potential of 19.5 years in prison – and/or fines of nearly $50,000.
February 1, 2018
Developer’s plan for motel lot is off the table
By Paul Rignell
Dresser Village Board President Bryan Beseler said at a monthly meeting Monday that a potential Valley Motel lot buyer had rescinded a redevelopment plan.
The developer, who owns other properties in Dresser, would have sought a village rezoning decision to allow mixed uses on the motel property.
At a meeting of Dresser planning commissioners Jan. 9, the developer said he was envisioning a mix of commercial and residential uses at the front of the property – facing Highway 35 – and other residential uses toward the back.
According to the planning meeting minutes, Beseler said then that he was against a rezoning of the front lot from commercial land to mixed-use property. He noted that the village’s comprehensive plan document “discourages residential” on Highway 35, per the minutes.
The developer responded that he has not seen much new business coming into Dresser, and he said there is a need for rental housing in the village that would be appealing to people who could afford $700 to $900 per month. He said there are existing options both lower and higher than that range.
The developer said he projected that the mixed uses, which he proposed for the front lot, could become all commercial within 10 years.
Beseler replied that if any residential would be allowed at the front facing Highway 35, he doubted it would ever go back to commercial.
Elina Kuusisto also said she did not favor residential zoning there. She said there are other potential locations for new housing in Dresser without taking over commercial land.
February 8, 2018
First issue since electric utility sold
By Lynda Berg Olds
Monday night’s meeting of the Centuria Village Board was rather brief. Brian Kammerud was appointed to the Water and Sewer Commission; the Police Report was accepted without comment other than the fact Chief Jorgenson is using a new format; and the resignation of the Deputy Clerk was accepted.
Tracey Frokjer was hired last year, coinciding Clerk/Treasurer Judi Jepsen’s retirement. Karen Edgell stepped into Jepsen’s boots and Frokjer into Edgell’s. When Fjorkjer was first hired it was for 25 hours per week – with the knowledge that number would decrease.
That number did decrease to 10 hours per week, which resulted Frokher turning in her resignation - rather abruptly. Last Wednesday she said in a letter that Friday would be her last day (she was only working on Fridays).
The board approved the recommendation from Personnel to accept the resignation – and for Edgell to post the vacant position.
The board also approved the agreement with the Long Lake District, to continue payroll services for the Clean Boats/Clean Waters program. Village President Rod Peterson voiced some liability concerns, but Edgell assured him the village is covered.
The lengthiest discussion revolved around the power pole by the Gandy Dancer Parking lot, which will be coming down now that the village no longer owns the electric utility. This particular pole has long provided the service for various Memory Days functions – including for the stage for the bands.
After much consideration, the board deemed more information was necessary to make a decision, mostly with regards They weren’t sure if there was 100 amp service or 220, which is the first thing they need to figure out. The idea was since the village owns the library, they could then provide electric service for future bands, vendors, etc. They bandied about small fees, but put off making any kind decision until Public Works Director Tony Weinzirl could consult with KC Electric, namely Keith Lehman – to verify/quantify electric service to the library.
Finally, Open Book was scheduled for May 1 from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and the Board of Review for May 8, from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.