A 3-3 split vote Monday, Feb. 10, stalled plans for two projects under consideration by the Pine River-Backus School Board that would bring two of the district's athletic facilities into compliance.

The board discussed bonding for $500,000 for updates to the two facilities: the high school gym for $200,000 and the football field facilities for $300,000. There were no disagreements aired over plans for the high school gym updates; however, board members Katy Botz, Dawn Rubner and Wanda Carlson suggested the board should consider a lower cost project for the football field facility updates.

Board member Ryan Trumble was absent Monday.

Board members agreed Monday that updates to both facilities are necessary, as both facilities are out of compliance with certain state regulations. The high school bleachers, for example, are obsolete and pose a liability to the school district. The football field lacks sufficient restrooms and the portable toilets used during activities there are not compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The sticking point for the discussion appeared to be proposed plans to build not only an updated, compliant restroom facility at the football field, but to also construct a concessions stand.

Currently, the field has a building that was once used for both restrooms and a concessions stand, but neither are operational. Under the most recently proposed plan, that building would be demolished and the new facility would be equipped with a concessions stand that could be used for storage of football field equipment when not in use, a men's room with four stalls, a women's room with four stalls and a family restroom with two stalls, all ADA compliant.

With Trumble's absence, the board vote was split with members Dave Sheley, Leslie Bouchonville and Chris Cunningham voting in favor while Botz, Rubner and Carlson voted in opposition.

Dissenters to the vote argued that the board should consider a facility without an attached concession stand. The school district has a concessions trailer it currently uses for events. Director of Buildings and Grounds Karl Flier said the proposed concessions portion of the building would provide needed storage for field equipment. Cunningham also argued that the long-term savings of not including the stand in the plan would not likely be that great when compared to the cost of eventual upkeep and replacement on the concession trailer. Flier said a properly constructed building would outlive the board members.

Until Monday's meeting, the plan was to send the project for bids the last week in February. The board now will hold a planning meeting to discuss alternative options for the project(s) and the subject is expected to come up once again in March for consideration.

Updates in the high school gym project would include updated bleachers, floors, walls, basketball hoops and equipment. Had the board approved the $500,000 bond, the district would have seen no tax impact from the projects as the district would have used existing levy dollars to make payments on the bond.

In other business Monday, the board:

  • Agreed to hire Anjanette Arnold as English as a Second Language/interventionist teacher' Lianna Vry as elementary teacher; Krisha Brown as a cook; Mike Dinnel as varsity basketball coach; Ben Kinser as assistant baseball coach; Terry Brink as junior high baseball coach; John Riewer as varsity softball coach; Travis Hoffarth as assistant softball coach; Steve Heslop as varsity boys golf coach; Mark Gonnion as varsity girls golf coach; Tom Demars as varsity boys track coach; Tim Ramler as varsity girls track coach; and Justin Franke as assistant track coach.
  • Updated the 10-year, long-term facilities maintenance plan and budget.

Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.