Former superintendent leaves lasting school gift
"It's a great time to be a kid in Park Rapids," read a simple message penned after voters approved building the Century School in February 1999.
"It was his legacy to the community," Century School principal Bruce Gravalin said of superintendent Terry Bartness's role in gaining momentum for the project.
"This was his lasting contribution," Gravalin said. "He is responsible for the building we have here today."
Monday, the community bid farewell to Bartness who died last week at his home in Park Rapids. He was 63.
"It caught everyone by surprise," Gravalin said.
Bartness was superintendent of Park Rapids Schools from 1996 until 2001. He retired last year after serving as superintendent of the Kelliher School District since 2002.
"A dream is coming true," Bartness said after 56 percent of district voters approved the $35 million referendum. He made rounds to classrooms to show students the blueprints, explaining what was in store.
"Without his push, the building wouldn't be here today," Gravalin said.
Bartness gave parents, business owners and seniors partnership in the project. Committees were organized to address questions and concerns expressed by taxpayers. By engaging the community, while candidly addressing objections and rumors, the project gained support.
"It's his footprint in the community," Gravalin said of Century School.