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Erie School Board discusses therapy dogs and wind turbine 

Some money is in the budget to pay for the decommissioning of the turbine, but without exact costs, the money may not completely be there. Board members, Mark Wiseley and Shannon James expressed their desire to see the structure go, but suggested the board wait until next summer after the other projects are clearer.

Credit:  Erie School Board Discusses Therapy Dogs And Wind Turbine | Amy Achs, AP Erie Correspondent | September 28, 2022 | www.aroundptown.com ~~

EHS principal, Tim McConnnell, and the board recognized Senior, Bryce Jepson, for his recent award for academic honors from the College Board’s National Recognition Program. He was one of 62,000 students from across the country to be recognized for the National Rural and Small Town Award for excellence in academics scoring within the top 10% in the state on the PSAT.

Mr. McConnell also recognized two students who are taking part in the Whiteside Area Career Center (WACC) program for future entrepreneurs CEO program. Seth Johnson and Logan Copeland are currently part of this program that requires a huge commitment of time and energy. Students are required to follow a business casual dress code. They tour local businesses such as Local business members from the community come in to speak, as well. Logan Copeland stated that the main goal of the program was to bring kids into the business world and show students that “there are opportunities in your local community for you to pursue.” Seth Johnson added that it is great to get out of school and meet other students and people in the community. He also said, “You learn a lot.” Seth has been putting his entrepreneurship skills to work as he has his own business in Prophetstown detailing cars.

Therapy Dogs

Elementary School counselor, Amanda Abbott presented an update on the progress of starting a therapy dog program in the district that was approved in 2019. Due to delays with COVID it has taken awhile, but the time has come to receive the training and the dogs. Abbott and Ryan Winckler will be the owners of the dogs and provide for their care, both at work and at home. If they are busy at school, in meetings, or have to step away, Mr. Birdsall and Mrs. Hatteburg are the second handlers who will be trained to take over the dogs’ care. The dogs are trained through the CARES, Inc company in Concordia, Kansas who use prison inmates for the initial training of the dogs. Abbott and Winckler will go to Concordia for a five-day training program and if the handlers and the dogs pass the final test, they will be free to come back to Erie and start being utilized in the district. These therapy dogs are in high demand, and would travel the area in emergency situations where their skillset can be utilized to help others through tragedy. The dogs will be going to the different buildings so that students have a chance to meet both of them and the pair will have their own social media accounts so everyone can follow their activity. Abbott stated that both she and Winckler are super excited to go through this experience and can’t wait to have the dogs start working in the schools.

Administrative Report – Supt. Chuck Milem

The School Maintenance Grant funds have been used to replace the fencing around the football field and track. The project will be wrapping up soon. Mr. Milem intends to apply for the grant again for 2023 and the board approved permission for him to do so. This application would focus on updating sidewalks from the ticket booth to the visitor side of the football field/track and from the gravel parking lot to the ticket booth to be ADA compliant.

Board President’s Report

Jason Norman reminded members that the school board elections are coming up and there are three seats up for election: Shannon James, Mark Wiseley, and Keith Naftzger.

Action Items

The Fiscal Year 2023 budget was unanimously approved. The forecasts and potential expenses have been presented at the previous board meetings with Erie in healthy financial shape. The budget will be made available to the public on the school’s website.

Discussion was started for a maintenance shop building to be constructed as soon as possible. The old shop, located in the annex, has been used as a storage and maintenance shop for the district with machinery, parts, and large deliveries like salt and paper. With plans for construction the shop would not be available. To save costs, it was determined that the building’s interior would not have to be finished immediately, but could be done in-house over time. The building would be placed on the land that was recently purchased and would be close to the bus barn for easy and cheaper electrical and water hookups. More details for budgeting and planning are in the works and a special meeting may be called in order to further discuss and make any final decisions.

The board gave unanimous approval for a skid steer purchase steer through the Sourcewell federal bidding process saving close to $30,000. The skid steer was chosen for its versatility with attachments for pushing snow, use as a forklift, and a bucket for excavation. The money for this was included in the FY 2023 budget.

The board gave unanimous approval to apply to the IHSA to start a Competitive Cheer program. It’s available to EP basketball or football cheerleaders and there will be tryouts as only 14 students are allowed with two of those being alternates. The Prophetstown School Board has to approve this and the IHSA has to give their approval with Brian Howell filling out the paperwork to apply. As far as the costs, the biggest cost is the initial purchase of uniforms, some music fees, and other smaller fees. Coach Milem stated, “I think this is great. It’s another opportunity for kids, and we have a very passionate coach.”


Tina DeShane, Food Service Manager, effective October 1, 2022 (replace Mrs. Bright retirement)
Mariah Rudnicki, High School Newspaper, Column B/Year 0 = $1,148 (replace Mrs. Proeger retirement)
Shauna DeBlieck, Competitive Cheer coach pending approval of the Competitive Cheer program
Tony Stiles, Volunteer Girls’ Basketball Coach

Informational Items

Ameresco, a renewable energy company located in Oak Park, IL, was contacted to give an estimate for how best to handle the wind turbine. They agreed to have engineers come to assess the situation at no cost. Their response: “…it is not conducive to [get] the turbine back online, the equipment is too large for local companies to service or is not serviceable due to the manufacturer. We have not been able to find a contractor willing and able to do any work on repairing the unit at all. On the other hand, we have found local contractors who have significant experience in decommissioning non-working turbines. We have received cost estimates between $195,000.00 and $310,000.00 for demolishing turbines of this size. Price is dependent on the method allowed for removal. The lower end of the cost range would be to tip the turbine over in the adjacent open field, dismantle the turbine on the ground, and leave the base concrete in place. The higher end of the cost range is if the unit is taken down piece by piece while standing in place and also removes the concrete foundation down to four-foot below grade. There is a potential salvage value of the turbine materials that is anywhere from 5 to 15% of the demolition cost.”

Jason Norman suggested, “the board has three options: we do nothing and have it sit there, spend money to tear it down, or we spend a lot more money to replace it with new.” He also stated that it costs money to keep it insured and maintaining the area. Board member, Keith Naftzger stated, ” I hate to spend more money.” It was agreed that the higher priority items are the new elementary and possible maintenance shop buildings. Some money is in the budget to pay for the decommissioning of the turbine, but without exact costs, the money may not completely be there. Board members, Mark Wiseley and Shannon James expressed their desire to see the structure go, but suggested the board wait until next summer after the other projects are clearer.

The next meeting is Monday October 24, 2022 at 6:30 in the Erie High School Media Center.

Source:  Erie School Board Discusses Therapy Dogs And Wind Turbine | Amy Achs, AP Erie Correspondent | September 28, 2022 | www.aroundptown.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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