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Park Rapids Schools' "connection to the community" is to be credited for the $1.1 million operating levy meeting voter approval, superintendent Glenn Chiodo told the school board this week. Fifty-four percent of Park Rapids School District voters approved continuing the levy of $600 per student per year for the next five years, with 2,937 voting in favor, 2,464 opposed. Statewide, few referendums gained approval, Chiodo told the board, and those that did were mostly renewals. "It's a partnership with the community," he said. "We're moving away from us and them. They see stability.
All gave some. Some gave all. The inscription at the All Veterans Memorial is a succinct reminder of soldiers' sacrifice. Thursday, the nation will honor military veterans. Approximately 12 percent of Hubbard County residents, slightly above the national average, have served in the Armed Forces. "It's a privilege to serve," said Dave Free, Vietnam vet and Commandant of the Marine Corps League in Park Rapids. "Veterans are an elite minority." Free joined the Marine Corps at 18, "a very impressionable time of life.
Akeley's election did not result in Terry Chalich claiming a seat on the council due to Cliff Johnson's decision to withdraw. Johnson's name was on the ballot and he received 64 votes; Chalich earned 58. According to statute, Johnson must officially decline the position in January. At that time, the council may appoint, at their discretion. The council is not mandated to appoint the candidate who appeared on the ballot receiving the next highest number of votes.
Nevis will begin the search for a new liquor store manager, come December. Mark Peterson has resigned, accepting a position with Wirtz Beverage. But he will remain in the area, having developed an affinity for the rural lifestyle. Cammy Johnson will act as interim liquor store manager. The council agreed to advertise the position in mid-December and interview and hire prior to the Minnesota Beverage Association informational "camp" in February. Peterson initiated several activities to buoy sales, including a monthly themed potluck and bingo.
Department of Natural Resources officials report plans for the Heartland Trail Extension from Park Rapids to Moorhead are moving forward. Suzanne Rhees, principal planner for the project, said she's looking to receive approval of the master plan by year's end. "It's a collaborative process," she said of the proposed 85- to 100-mile trail, depending on the routes. "We're excited about this," DNR regional manager Mike Kovacovich told the 40-plus who arrived to review the plans last week. He acknowledged the plan has been a long time in coming.
Nevis School District residents - parents, specifically - will likely see a second mailing on the proposed operating referendum, spearheaded by members of the PTA. The district is proposing revoking the current operating levy of $126 per resident pupil and asking voters to authorize a $475 per resident pupil amount.
Auditors presented the Nevis School Board with good news this week. The school's unreserved, undesignated general fund balance has reached $956,017, up significantly from the $528,162 amount in 2006. The amount has returned to totals seen in 2003, when the fund balance totaled $974,067. "We're financially stable," superintendent Steve Rassier commented after the meeting. The good news - a fund balance representing 20 percent of the overall budget - comes after four years of strategic planning, he said. "We're there now.