October 23, 2014

State Auditor Rebecca Otto Petition Report has ISD 2142 receiving letter of reprimand, no action


Minnesota State Auditor Rebecca Otto took time out from her campaigning for re-election to come to the regular meeting of the ISD 2142 board in Cherry Tuesday, Oct. 14, at 5 p.m., along with Deputy State Auditor Greg Hierlinger, and Assistant General Counsel Mark Kerr. Their 500-mile round-trip was for a report that lasted less than eight minutes.
State Auditor Otto came to the board to present the Petition Report that was filed for the Bond Referendum held Dec. 8, 2009. Tower Mayor Steve Abrahamson and City Clerk Tim Kotzian, chair of the Coalition for Community Schools that was based in Tower, had filed for this action citing the board for using the district's newsletter and district funds to promote this referendum. The district was asked to file a report showing the campaign finances, which they did. This is something that is apparently new to the auditor. Failure to file that report on time resulted in the reprimand. When board member Jody Feist asked if this was the first time this has been brought up, Legal Counsel Kerr replied that it was. The district did file the papers which, apparently, brings this matter to an end.
The report stated, "We do not mean that the public body formulating the program is otherwise restrained from advocating and espousing its adoption by the voters. Indeed, as in the instant case, when the program represents the body's judgment of what is required in the effective discharge of its responsibility, it is not only the right, but perhaps the duty of the body to endeavor to secure the assent of the voters thereto. The question we are considering is simply the extent to and manner in which the funds may with justice to the rights of dissenters be expended for espousal of the voters' approval of the body's judgment."
Justice Paul Anderson wrote, "One of those relevant circumstances is the district's right - indeed duty - to educate voters on the purposes and effects of the proposed ballot question and whether it was that duty that the district fulfilled, here."
The report on page 23, under Conclusions of Law, No. 18: The Complainants have failed to demonstrate that the School District intentionally failed to file a report required under Minn. Stat. 211A.02, or a certification required by Minn. Stat. 211A.05, subd. 1. Therefore, this alleged violation is dismissed.
Finally, under ORDER, It is hereby ordered that: 1. The School District is reprimanded for violating the campaign finance reporting requirements of Minn. Stat. 211A.02. 2. By August 30, 2014, the School District shall file the required campaign financial reports with the appropriate filing officer and the Office of Administrative Hearings. This was dated May 30, 2014. These were filed by e-mail on Sept. 23, 2014, which settled the reprimand.
Apparently this should be the end of the numerous lawsuits emanating from Tower that have apparently cost ISD 2142 taxpayers over $400,000, not counting the cost of having district employees fill out forms. None of the lawsuits against the district won, but taxpayers lost. Attempts to stop the passing of the referendum and starting the construction of the North Woods School also cost district taxpayers and students an apparent hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Supt. Steve Sallee was next and reported that the district's Early Childhood Family Education program was going great. There are 11 ECFE classes in the district and other school districts are asking how 2142 does it.
Sallee asked the board's permission to look into replacing the 17 to 19 copy machines the district has. The State's purchasing department will have figures by Oct. 19. The cost per month for copiers is $5-$7,000. The board gave him its permission. Supt. Sallee thanked them for their support as he took over the job of superintendent.
Cherry Student Council member Rollie Dethloff gave a power point presentation of what his council is doing. They are also members of the Northeast Division of Student Councils. Their big project is two blood donation drives, one in the fall and one in the spring.
The Cherry Expansion project was reported on by Architectural Resources' Nick Anderson. Most of the expansion is completed and there is still $50,000 left in the contingency fund. ARI CEO Doug Hildenbrand reported they came in three quarters of a million under a budget from Johnson Controls. Bad weather stopped them from completing the project on time, but they were close.
Under the Consent Agenda, the board accepted donations to the South Ridge School of around $2,680, the Cherry School of $500 from Walmart, and $669.05 for North Woods.
Six students from Northeast Range and North Woods, along with instructor Mrs. Azzabi, were given permission to travel to the 3lst Annual Chorfest Tri-State Honor Choir Festival at the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Nov. 6, 2014.
The administration has completed contracts and the board approved the contracts for Paraprofessionals, Teaching Assistants, ITV Teaching Assistants, Library Assistants, Teacher Aides, ISS Monitors, Food Service, Indian Education, and Health Services for 2013-2016, and Operating Engineers for 2011-2013 and 2013-2015.
The principals' contract for 2013-2015 was ratified, with Nancy Glowaski abstaining.
Probationary teachers Tucky Dill, 1.0 FTE elementary teacher for North Woods, and Marian Azzabi, .05 FTE music teacher at North Woods, were approved.
The board hired the following support staff for the 2014-2015 school year: Melissa Morse, instructional aide, and Lisa Fosness, instructional aide, both at South Ridge; Joey Ruotsalainen, library assistant at Cherry; Samantha Reichensperger, teacher aide at Tower-Soudan; and Debra Kumferman, bus driver at Northeast Range.
Jeremy Argir was hired as a 5/8 time assistant football coach for Cherry.
The following resignations were accepted: Sheri Carlson, 0.2 FTE Parent Educator at NER; Debra Kumferman, van driver at NER; Bill Marino, assistant football coach at Cherry; Derik Bjorgo, assistant boys basketball coach at Cherry; Bobbi Maish, Community Education coordinator at South Ridge; and Megan Vergin, custodian at South Ridge.
Amanda Koivisto was given a one-day-a-week leave of absence, unpaid, for 2014-2015.
A resolution was passed relating to election of school board members. For Election District 2 representing North Woods, Nathan Briggs, Danielle Herring and Daniel Manick are running for the seat held by Jody Feist who is not seeking re-election. For Election District 5 representing Cherry, Lynette Zupetz is running unopposed. For Election District 3 representing Tower, Troy Swanson is running unopposed. They will be running in the General Election on Nov. 4.
There being no other business, the meeting adjourned at 6:25 p.m.

Wings and Things is Here!

The weekend we have been waiting for is here, 2014 Wings and Things will be celebrated this Saturday, Oct. 25, at the Cook VFW! Saturday is a busy day in the Cook area, with sports, bazaars, hunting and fall activities. Make sure you find the time to stop in at the VFW to win prizes and eat wings!
The day will start out with bingo from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Orders for wings will start at noon until 7:30 p.m. Wing flavors are: Honey Garlic, Bourbon, Sweet Chili, Teriyaki, Hot and Mild. You may also order wings to go by calling the VFW at 666-0500.
Tickets for all prizes will be sold throughout the day. Some drawings you will need to be present for and some you will not. So come for the day or part of it. There will be basket drawings, raffle drawings, 52 card drawings and the Main Raffle drawing. Main Raffle tickets are available at the following businesses: Zup's, Country Store, Cook Area Credit Union, the VFW, DreamWeavers, and from Friends of the Parks board members. Prizes are: 1st Prize - $1,000 in cash, 2nd Prize
- $200 gift card from Zup's, and 3rd Prize - $100 gift card from the Country Store/Vermilion Motel. Be sure to take time to purchase one and wait for your name to be drawn at 8 p.m. Saturday!
Wings and Things is sponsored by Cook's Friends of the Parks, a group of volunteer members who spearhead fundraisers for the benefit of all of our parks. The support and help of local businesses, organizations and citizens is key to the success of each event and very much appreciated by the members. Together we are making it happen!
Come on out and show your support while having a great time!


The National Trust for Historic Preservation is encouraging people to be tourists in their own towns by promoting the "Doors Open" concept, popular in cities and towns across Europe and Canada for years. These are weekend events to provide the public with free access to cultural, historic, and natural sites, and feature both well-known and less-familiar attractions.
The Doors Open concept is gaining popularity around this country because it keeps tourist money in the local economy, helps to raise residents' awareness of distinctive local areas for exploration, encourages further involvement in preservation and conservation needs, and shows local leaders how heritage resources contribute cultural and economic benefits to the local community.
Alango School Friends Inc. is encouraging area residents to attend Doors Open Alango on Saturday, Nov. 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at Alango School in Angora. Participants are encouraged to tour the building, ask questions, and to receive progress reports and future plans for Alango School. The goals of this event are to share the rewards of restoration and preservation efforts over the past 10 years, raise awareness of the school's uniqueness, and to secure support within the community. Guests are encouraged to donate any historical information relating to Alango School, including old yearbooks, photos, and personal stories.
Alango School Friends recently announced it is officially a public charity with tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. "This opens many doors for us to expand fundraising activities and fully realize our goals as a charitable educational organization promoting personal, family, and community enrichment," remarked President Adam Larson. "Our mission is to restore and revitalize the historic Alango School. Through dedication to our mission, we hope to educate and inspire."
Alango School was built in 1927 and the gymnasium wing was added in 1938. The school earned its placement in the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. For more information about the National Trust for Historic Preservation, visit the Trust's web site at www.nationaltrust.org, and for more information about Alango School Friends, visit www.alangoschoolfriends.org.

Bleachers sold to County Fair

by A.J. Shuster

Mayor Joel Astleford shared that a non-profit group is interested in use of the old school. Their use could lead to the possibility of having taxpaying rentals sometime in the future. No details are finalized to reveal the group at this time.
A representative for the St. Louis County Agricultural Fair Association put a bid of $4,000 on the football field bleachers. Mayor Astleford stated that the council's research led them to believe that a value of $6,000 was a fair price. He asked if a compromise of $5,000 would be acceptable, and this was agreeable. Look for the bleachers next summer at the fairgrounds for horse shows and bull-riding events.
A mutual aid agreement between the Orr Ambulance and International Falls Ambulance was renewed.
The following three resolutions were passed:
a) 2014-7 for application to St. Louis County CDBG for sewer line replacement along County 23
b) 2014-8 for application to St. Louis County CDBG for water line behind Norman's One Stop/Motel.
c) 2014-9 for application to the IRRRB Infrastructure Grant Program for the Highway 23 sewer line improvement.
In department reports, the Tourist Information traffic has slowed, and the outside faucet is disconnected from the water line.
The Ambulance has had only a couple of runs and some transfers. This slow pace is good for the public in the areas of health and safety, but poor for the Ambulance budget.
Chet Nieman, who calls himself the "Singing Bartender," says the Muni is doing well. He has just finished employee training. His inventory work gets slowed with frequent computer glitches. Though purchase of a new system has been previously approved, he wants to wait until the new year so as not to have two systems for the same inventory. He questioned about whether to have new locks and keys, and security codes. Council members agreed that the codes should be changed.
Maintenance director Paul Koch was unavailable as he was at a class to upgrade and renew his sewer worker license. This is overdue for him as he was to take it last spring. The frozen water lines problems at that time kept him too busy to go then.
The Truth in Taxation date is set for Monday, Dec. 8, at 6:30 p.m. If there is a reason to reschedule, the contingency date will be Dec. 15.


Pick up this week's paper for more stories and pictures...

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