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Fate of middle school building unchanged

What will happen to New Richmond Middle School once the school district vacates the building is still up in the air.

The New Richmond School Board discussed the building briefly at its regular meeting Monday, but no action was taken.

Morrie Veilleux, district administrator, said an area Government Entities Network has decided to recommend that the district remain in possession of the building for 3-5 years after it is vacated in 2011. That means the school district would be responsible for operating and maintenance costs associated with the building, Veilleux said.

Originally it was thought that the city would take possession of the building when it was vacated for use as a new library and/or ambulance facility.

Veilleux said that's still the intent, but the organizations in charge of that development need more time to plan and fund-raise.

Through conversations with the Government Entities Network, Veilleux said it's likely the north side of the middle school could be remodeled and used as a new library space. New Richmond Area Ambulance and Rescue could remodel and use the western part of the building as a new ambulance facility.

"This is the best attempt to keep this building in operation in the community," Veilleux said.

Still, the idea doesn't sit well with some of the board members.

Member Chris Skoglund said she wanted a more concrete timeline before agreeing to anything.

Greg Gartner said he's uncomfortable with the 3-5 year commitment by the school board.

"This doesn't sit well with me," he said. "I don't like this -- it's a lot of years with a pretty decrepit building."

Other board members said it's a good idea and supported by the area towns and villages.

"If other groups think this is what we should do..." said Marty Wold. "They're the taxpayers. It's their money, not our money."

The Government Entities Network represents residents in the Town of Erin Prairie, Town of Richmond, Town of Stanton, Town of Star Prairie, Village of Star Prairie and City of New Richmond.

No decision was made on Monday. Veilleux said he just wanted to let the board know of the Government Entities Network's suggestion. The school board will discuss the building more at its Feb. 3 work session.

Jackie Grumish
Jackie Grumish has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since 2008. She holds degrees in journalism and fine art from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Ill. Before coming to New Richmond, Jackie worked as the city government reporter at a daily newspaper in Aberdeen, S.D. 
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