REGIONAL- While Tuesday’s working session of the ISD 2142 school board was devoted to reviewing state assessment results, board chairman Dan Manick delivered his own scathing assessment of the …
REGIONAL- While Tuesday’s working session of the ISD 2142 school board was devoted to reviewing state assessment results, board chairman Dan Manick delivered his own scathing assessment of the district’s failure to address long-standing issues with the deteriorating condition of the concession building at the North Woods football, baseball and softball complex.
Manick’s indictment came at the end of the meeting during closing comments from board members, sparked by a comment from fellow board member Pat Christensen.
“The only thing I’ve got is that I had two people who approached me in the Zup’s parking lot (in Cook) wondering if they can run a garden hose over to the concession stand, or if the lines are broken underneath to the drain line,” Christensen said. “I’m starting to hear a bit about the fact that we don’t have a concession stand, so hopefully something’s getting closer to done. They can sell, but you can’t use the bathrooms. They have no water.”
The facility has been plagued for years by uneven and dramatic settling of the concrete slab on which it sits, in places more than five inches, distorting fixtures and cutting off water to the building. Uneven also describes the poor conditions of the football field and baseball and softball outfields at North Woods, all of which suffer from poor drainage, and are among a litany of construction issues at the 10-year-old school.
But on Tuesday, Manick zeroed in on the concession stand.
“Just kind of piggybacking on Pat, I’ll probably call Reggie (Superintendent Reggie Engebritson) and see how we could put something on the agenda for the next school board meeting,” he said as a prelude to expressing his frustrations over the district’s inaction.
“I’ve only got a little bit of time left in my last term here, and you want to come to the school board and make a difference with whatever it might be,” he continued. “Well, Pat’s been here how many years now, and I’m in my seventh year, and how damn long have we been talking about that concession stand? I want it on our agenda. Maybe let’s just tear the damn thing down and start over again, because before I leave here, we’re going to do something about it. I’m tired of just kicking this can down the road.”
Manick said he received plenty of negative feedback about the situation when he was the baseball coach.
“I haven’t been coaching for two and a half years,” Manick said. “I used to get bugged all the time, two and a half years ago, and I’ve been sitting here for two and a half years and we’re, we’re just very polite, watching things happen in other schools. We’re adding on, we’re putting up lights at Northeast Range.”
At that point, Manick momentarily veered off on another issue of inequity, that of school signage.
“I’m going to take a picture of that little sign that says you’re at the North Woods School,” he said. “We’ve got electronic signs at our other schools, and we just keep kicking the can down the road.”
Manick acknowledged there were some issues with the landscape surrounding Hwy 53 and that he wanted to meet with the state Department of Transportation to explore possibilities. Then he returned to the concession stand.
“I’m not going to leave here in one year and four months with that concession stand still not being able to be used or fully functional,” he declared. “You could go back and look at our sheets when we’re doing our budget, long-term facilities maintenance, how much are we spending at North Woods? South Ridge hasn’t had much either because they’re newer schools. But come on, how long do we just ignore this concession stand?”
At a board study meeting in April 2019, Engebritson said she was going to ask for the board’s approval to hire legal counsel to pursue action against Johnson Controls International, Kraus-Anderson and Architectural Resources, Inc., the three companies that designed or oversaw the work on the North Woods and South Range projects. Two weeks later, Engebritson reported that Kraus-Anderson and Architectural Resources had contacted district officials, saying that ‘they want to work with us and find some resolution,” but little had happened since. This past February, Engebritson said she was in contact with an attorney in the Twin Cities who specializes in these types of cases about the possibility of taking on the district as a client. In a recent conversation with the Timberjay, Engebritson said that the attorney is still reviewing documentation in order to come to a decision.