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Board discusses loss of boiler at Community Commons

During its April 7 New Richmond School District Board of Education work session meeting, District Administrator Jeff Moberg informed the board that one of the two boilers that works to keep the Community Commons at a normal temperature recently went down.

“What is different about this time is that the people that repair it are now refusing to come out and repair it,” Moberg said. “It is not because they don’t want to do the work … but because they have cut into the water jacket so many times that they feel the liability that they incur is too much, so they will no longer take that liability on.”

The part of the boiler that broke down is one of the pipes inside the burner which is encased in a double-walled water jacket that conducts air. When those pipes break they need to be re-crimped, and that means cutting into the water jacket, and then rewelding it every time a repair is needed.

“They just feel that now if something were to happen, the integrity of that water jacket is such that they have compromised it too many times and it wouldn’t pass inspection either,” Moberg said. “Brian Johnston and I have only had a few days to discuss the options and we have talked about looking at other contractors who might come in to fix it. However, I would assume, if they would fix it, they would only do it once or twice … before they come to the same conclusion as the current people who fix it.”

Moberg and Johnston, who is the Director of Fiscal and Building Operations for the district, are currently looking at a range of options for the boiler, as well as the costs of each solution, including possibly cutting off the bottom half of the boiler that is broken and replacing it. The two have also looked at replacing the boiler completely or upgrading the entire system.

“Luckily the weather has turned, so we should be able to get by through the spring with one boiler since temps are warm enough that the building is not going to freeze,” Moberg said. “We can not go through next winter with just one boiler. It just can’t take the load. It will not be a possibility and we will have major problems should that last one go down and haven’t winterized the building. If this doesn’t rally people to find a solution to what to do with the Community Commons, I don’t know what would.”

The board also approved the school district’s health and dental insurance renewal and the St. Croix Electric Cooperative’s 2014 Opt-Out/Opt-In Enrollment Agreement. The board decided to stay with HealthPartners for its medical insurance while moving to a self-funded dental plan using HealthPartners as the plan administrator. For medical insurance, HealthPartners was cheaper than the Wisconsin Physicians Service (WPS) plan, which was the other leading bidder for the district. Moving to a selffunded dental plan, according to Johnston, would be a very low risk move because benefits are capped and claims rarely change much year to year. With the self funded plan, the rates for the district would go down about $5 for a single and just over $15 for a family.

Other business: 

— The board accepted the resignation of Jackie Montreal as the Special Services Administrative Assistant. 

— The board approved the adoption and purchase of multiple new books for classes such as AP history, modern world history, civics and physics. 

— The board approved a budget reallocation to move money from less used funds to cover the cost of buying the new books and for other needed costs.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for April 21 at 7 p.m.

Jordan Willi
Jordan Willi is a reporter for the New Richmond News. Previously, he worked as a sports reporter at the Worthington Daily Globe in Worthington, Minnesota. He also interned at the Hudson Star Observer for two summers and contributed to the Bison Illustrated sports magazine at North Dakota State University.
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