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District affirms electric provider choice

The New Richmond School Board voted unanimously Monday night to approve a resolution reaffirming St. Croix Electric Cooperative as the electric supplier to the new high school.

The resolution requests that the City of New Richmond take no further action to deter their decision.

This comes as a result of the City of New Richmond Utilities' request for the Public Utilities Commission to review the matter to determine who has the right to provide electric service to the new facility.

Both St. Croix Electric Cooperative and the City of New Richmond Utilities bid on the project originally. When the School Board chose St. Croix Electric, the New Richmond City Utilities filed a request for review with the Public Utilities Commission. The City claims to have the "right" to provide power to the high school.

The School Board chose St. Croix Electric because of promised savings in electric costs from the cooperative.

The resolution signed by the Board Monday night aligns the District on the side of St. Croix Electric in the fight for power rights.

"You are reinforcing your decision to another body that will review it," District Administrator Morrie Veilleux told the Board. "SCEC has done what they said they would do. There are already lines in the ground and they have purchased the transformers and generators. They have put in the infrastructure at no cost to us."

Board member Greg Gartner said he believed the Board should sign the resolution even though two Board members were absent (Marty Wold and Bryan Shafer) since there was an approximate $40,000 in savings at stake in the fight for St. Croix Electric to be the District's provider. Neal Melby and Chris Skoglund agreed.

Gartner motioned to adopt the resolution, with Melby adding a second. The motion passed unanimously.

In other business:

• Stu Waller from Neola, Inc. was present to explain the process of reorganizing the policies and procedures manual for the District. The District hired Neola, Inc. to assist them with updating and reorganizing the policies and procedures manual. The Board scheduled a two to three hour meeting with Waller on Nov. 3 to begin the lengthy process.

• High School Principal Jeff Moberg discussed the progress of the new high school. Moberg said they are on schedule, with all the footers poured and backfilled and several walls in the process of being built. He mentioned that there are some areas on the site where soil mitigation will need to be done and that is slowing the process of getting the parking lots and roads done. Moberg stated that they may need to use some of the contingency money to correct the soil issues. The Board deferred discussing possible solutions to these issues until the Oct. 20 Board meeting.

• Director of Fiscal and Building Operations Brian Johnston reported that the annual state financial audit has been completed and no discrepancies were found. He also said that the District's interest income is half of what it was at this time last year, but said that was to be expected with the economy the way it is.

• The secretarial contract has been settled. Veilleux said he thinks it's a fair agreement and it fits in the parameters of the District's budget. The secretarial staff will see an increase in salary of 4 percent for the first year (2007-08) of their two-year contract and 3.75 percent for the second year (2008-09). The Board voted unanimously to adopt the new secretarial contract.