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Menahga School Board addresses hearsay about giant bull

The "Be Brave Vote Yes" committee is renting this prominent display on Highway 71 in Menahga. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)1 / 2
Not to be outdone, the "Vote No" committee has its own sign on Highway 71, north of Menahga.2 / 2

Some Menahga residents have a groundless beef with Herman the Bull — a 12-foot, poly-resin fiberglass sculpture who's been appearing in and around town.

The Hereford's message board urges locals to vote in favor of a $29.7 general obligation school building bond and an additional $5 million bond for stormwater management, road relocation and equipment purchases for robotics, milling, welding and medical office tech labs at Menahga High School.

The statue's presence is not at the expense of the Menahga School District.

At Monday's work session, Board member Brad Goehrig said rumors are circulating about the bull's supposed cost to the district.

"The bull's not getting paid for," Goehrig said.

"And that's no bull," quipped District Business Manager Liz Olson.

Herman the Bull is, in fact, owned by Greg Tryggeseth.

"They actually have two of them," explained Menahga High School Principal Mark Frank in a phone interview.

Herman has a sibling located at Tryggeseth's antique store in Motley.

The "Be Brave, Vote Yes" committee reached an agreement with Tryggeseth to rent one of the bulls for a couple months, Frank said, who is a committee member.

"It's unfortunate there's a lot of misunderstanding out there," he added

Superintendent Kevin Wellen corrected another rumor at Monday's meeting.

"A question was raised as to how the lunches and ice cream have been paid for at the district's meetings," he said. "I have been paying for them personally as a 'thank you' to our community members who have been kind enough to join us. This is not just a referendum thing. I have been doing this any time the district has had guests for lunch."

Wellen said he performed this courtesy at school districts where he previously worked as well.

Next week, on April 19, bond referendum ballots will be mailed to all legal and registered voters within the school district.

Completed ballots may be submitted by mail, in person or by a designated agent. In order to be valid, all mail ballots require the signature of a witness.

The district office will be the only polling place on Tuesday, May 9 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. It's the last day to vote with valid voter identification.

Election judges will be handling the ballots and regularly collecting them from the post office, explained Wellen. This allows time for spoiled ballot to be corrected.

On April 10, the school board also held a joint meeting with the Menahga City Council.

Board member Jon Kangas inquired about the purpose of Monday's meeting since processes are already in place for requesting variances.

"I understood it to be informational only and not to engage in discussion or debate," replied Councilmember Maxine McNeece.

"We're basically here to listen," said Mayor Patrick Foss.

Wellen quickly reviewed the proposed building plan with the city council. He also discussed potential issues with impervious surfaces, if both ballot questions pass, since the school building is located within a shoreland zoning district.

Finally, Wellen requested city assistance with sanding the school's parking lots. There are no local contractors, so the school must purchase the product and rent the truck, he explained.

City Administrator Janette Bower said she would discuss matter with Utilities Superintendent Frank Thelin and offer a fair fee.

Wellen thanked Bower for suggesting the combined meeting. He said other school districts where he's worked have held informal meetings with city council.

"It's nice to put faces with names," said Board Chair Andrea Haverinen.

"You are the biggest business in town," Foss said. "It's important, I think, we have good relations."