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SCC Elementary library to open Monday

Amanda Olson, library media specialist for the St. Croix Central School District, happily unwraps some books in the almost finished library at the elementary school as staff prepares for the opening on Monday, Nov. 11. These books were checked out by students at the time of the fire April 30, or donated by community members.

The smiles on the faces of Amanda Olson and Connie Mueller were contagious as they unpacked new supplies in the rebuilt St. Croix Central Elementary School library Monday, Nov. 4.

According to Olson, the library media specialist for the district, the library will be ready for students to use Monday, Nov. 11.

“Everyone is excited to get in here and see this awesome new space,” Olson said.

This week workers are finishing touch-ups, installing electrical components and getting the computers set up. The circulation desk went in last week.

The new book collection was due to arrive Tuesday, Nov. 5. The school offices should be open in their new space Thursday, Nov. 7, Olson said.

The library and front offices (including the guidance counselor and nurse’s station) were destroyed in a fire April 30.

Justin W. Nelson, 25, of Roberts, pleaded guilty to the charge of arson in St. Croix County circuit court on Aug. 30, according to court records.

Charges of burglary, criminal damage to property and possession of marijuana were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

While SCC Elementary students were able to start the new school year in the building, the offices have been housed in a trailer at the front of the school and library classes have been held either in classrooms or at the Hazel Mackin Community Library, Olson said.

Mueller, a library paraprofessional, travelled between classrooms once a week and taught kids basic library knowledge, such as caring for books, parts of a book and fiction versus nonfiction.

Olson said it was hard for Mueller to move every class period and have no home base.

Some teachers took their students to the HMCL once a week for storytime and to check out books, Olson said.

“The public library ladies have been very supportive,” Olson said.

Olson also said it’s been hard not having a library for the kids to use or for staff to support their reading.

“There’s also been construction stress to deal with that goes along with any project, but for the most part it’s been pretty smooth,” Olson said. “Everyone has been pretty patient and willing to help out.”

Olson said staff worked with the insurance companies to get an estimate on the library’s collection, which was valued at roughly $120,000.

According to district business manager Jennifer Kleschold, the total damage to the building was more than $4 million. She also said there’s no way to tell if the project was under or over budget because there was no budget set. It was unknown how much it would cost and was added up as work progressed, Kleschold said.

Kleschold also said more than $18,000 has been donated to the district directly, and there is also an account set up at WESTconsin Credit Union by community members called SCC Strong where people can still donate.

Olson said right after a tragedy there is always an immediate outpouring of support, but it has continued well into the school year.

“I am still getting emails and offers of help,” Olson said.

To celebrate the reopening of the library, author Julie Bowe is coming to see the kids Nov. 19, at the library.

Bowe, who grew up in Luck, is the author of a children’s book series called <I>Friends for Keeps<I>, about elementary-age friendships, Olson said.

Music teacher Jeanne Larson organized the event, which will be sponsored by the Panther Parent Group.

Kids will be able to order copies of her books at the event. Parents are also invited to stop in and see the library during parent/teacher conferences.

Sarah Nigbor

Sarah J. Nigbor serves as a regional editor for RiverTown Multimedia, a position she began in April 2017. She joined RiverTown Multimedia in October 2013 as a news reporter for the New Richmond News, before being appointed editor of the Pierce County Herald in Febraury 2015. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Spanish and French in 2001. She completed a minor in journalism in 2004. 

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