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Police, district take another step to stop threats

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New Richmond, 54017
New Richmond News
715-246-7117 customer support
New Richmond Wisconsin 127 South Knowles Avenue 54017

Security cameras are being installed at the New Richmond Middle School in an effort to end a recent rash of bomb scares.

The New Richmond School Board and district administrators talked until the wee hours of the morning about the recent bomb threat issue Thursday night into Friday.

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Police report that 10 students have been detained and identified as bomb threat authors, according to Chief Mark Samelstad.

The police are awaiting handwriting analyses to be completed by the state crime lab to help identify further suspects.

Despite the stepped up activity, bomb scares continued last week. The week's bomb threats caused the evacuation of each of the district's buildings at least once. The Middle School alone reported five threats during the week.

A total of 21 bomb threats have been handled by police and district officials since Feb. 22, Samelstad said. Some of the threats have occurred off school grounds, but most have been through notes on school property.

Just nine of the bomb threat cases have been solved so far, Samelstad reported.

Previously, two sixth graders were expelled through the end of their eighth grade year due to their involvement in writing a threat.

Another sixth grade student was expelled through the end of the eighth grade year following a hearing Monday night.

"I am really, really tired of these," said Superintendent Craig Hitchens. He admitted he hates to answer the telephone these days, thinking another threat has been found and an evacuation is underway.

Hitchens said the School Board decided that the installation of security cameras will help identify students who are planting the bomb threats. He said he hopes they also act as a deterrent.

Whatever security system the Middle School uses will have to be removable, Hitchens noted, in case the building is abandoned by the district in the future.

At a planned special meeting Wednesday, the board was set to discuss the possible installation of security cameras at the High School as well.

"We are working with our consultants to get estimates on the cost," Hitchens said. "No matter how many adults we have in the hallways, we can't watch 850 kids."

Hitchens said the district will also be hiring additional substitute teachers to help monitor school hallways during the school day.

As for further security steps, Hitchens said the School Board will wait to discuss added measures until new members are sworn in.

Two incumbents and two challengers were elected to the New Richmond School Board April 5. Judy Remington and Chris Skoglund were re-elected to their posts, while Greg Gartner and Greg Demulling were selected for two other seats.

The new members will be sworn in at the Board's April 18 meeting, but they will not officially take office until April 25.

In an unrelated matter, the board conducted two expulsion hearings Thursday for eighth grade students who had used a controlled substance on school property. They were expelled through the end of the 2005-06 school year.

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Jeff Holmquist
Jeff Holmquist has been managing editor of the New Richmond News since 2004. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and business administration from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls. He has previously worked as editor in Wadena, Minn.; Detroit Lakes, Minn.; Hutchinson, Minn.; and Bloomington, Minn. He also was previously owner of the Osceola Sun, Stillwater Courier and Scandia Messenger along with his wife. Together they previously founded and published The Old Times newspaper for antiques and collectibles collectors; and Up!, a Christian magazine of hope and encouragement.
(715) 243-7767 x241
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