Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Virtual School Opportunities Through Baldwin-Woodville Schools

The Baldwin-Woodville School District is currently offering virtual schooling opportunities for students in grades five through 12, according to Superintendent Rusty Helland.

"This year we have three middle school students and one high school student participating in virtual school," said Helland. "We use the resources of CESA (Cooperative Educational Service Agencies) 9 to provide classes for our students," he added.

This is one of several different options for students to receive their education, said Helland. According to High School Principal Eric Russell B-W also offers online components to classes directly from local high school teachers in English, history and others.

Enrolling students in virtual school at Baldwin-Woodville is a win-win situation for families and the district, said Helland. The students are included in the district's enrollment, which determines state aid, and the district pays for the students classes.

For information about educational opportunities at Baldwin-Woodville, contact Supt. Helland at the district office, 684-3411.

Candidates selected SCC and B-W Boards of Education

Only the two incumbents have filed nomination papers for re-election for the Baldwin-Woodville Area Board of Education, according to Administrative Assistant Suzanne Zimmer at the B-W Superintendent's office.

The two incumbents who have filed for re-election are: Dustin Klanderman and Todd Graf. Theirs are the only seats up for election this spring on April 1. Deadline for filing was Wednesday, January 2.

For the St. Croix Central Board of Education there are two seats up for election and both incumbents have filed for re-election. They are John Hueg and David Olsen.

Municipal - For the Village of Baldwin, two candidates were nominated for the Municipal Judge position at caucus held Wednesday, January 9. They are incumbent Howard Ott and challenger Tammy Hovde. The three incumbents were nominated for the trustee positions that are up for election on April 1.

They are: Greg Larson, Claire Stein and Willie Zevenbergen.

For the Village of Woodville, only two persons filed nomination papers for three trustee positions that will be filled in the spring election. They are incumbents Barry Ketchum and Steve Gossel. The third incumbent, Ivan Clausen, did not filed nomination papers. Linda Duval, the incumbent Municipal Judge, filed nomination papers for re-election.

For the Village of Hammond, nomination papers were due January 2 and two incumbents filed and one former trustee. Both Steve Peterson and Chris Buckel filed papers for re-election. Incumbent trustee Brenda Monroe did not file. However, for the third trustee position up for
election in the April election former board member Wally Graf did file.

Village Board Approves Liquor License

On a preliminary basis, the Baldwin Village Board gave approval for a second liquor store license for the village.

The liquor store license, officially known as Class A beer and Class A liquor, was on the agenda for review and was requested by Stephanie Zacharias. She told the board that if she could secure a license, she would like to open a store in the eight unit strip mall at the southwest corner of the I-94/USH 63 interchange, known as Baldwin Retail.

There is no population requirement imposed as part of liquor licenses, but other requests in the past have been turned down by the board.

Trustee Claire Stein said he supported issuing the license because it would be good for competition and would be good for the village's tax base.

On a voice vote the board approved issuing the license, contingent on a site for the store being secured. There were no no votes, but Village President Don McGee announced he abstained from the vote because of a conflict with his son's employment.

In other action at the meeting, the board heard a presentation by Dave Carlson about financing for the proposed upgrade of Baldwin's wastewater treatment plant. (It should be noted somewhere, and here is as good as anywhere, that an upgrade would not be paid for by taxes, but rather by user fees-sanitary sewer charges are billed by the village on a quarterly basis.)

Carlson said the village has a choice in how to pay for the plant expansion, that will cost in the neighborhood of $5,000,000. He said the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources offers money from their "Clean Water Fund," at an interest rate of probably 2.75%.

The federally funded Rural Development Corporation offers an interest rate of 4.375%, but would also offer a $500,000 grant. The Rural Development money also comes with more paperwork attached, which may prove to be expensive.

Carlson said that the best interest rate from the DNR fund would result in about $317,000 in interest payments, and even with the best rate from Rural Development it would require a grant of about $900,000 to lessen its payments to those from the DNR fund. In addition, the Rural Development loan may have a "blended" interest rate because different aged areas of the village would be served, thus further increasing the interest differential.

"My personal feeling is let's go with the Clean Water Fund," said President McGee. "It's a lot simpler" and it's the route the village has chosen in the past.

Village Engineer Mike Stoffel added that the village isn't "skipping free money" by turning down the grant from Rural Development because its costs money to receive it and the interest rate would be higher.

The village board passed a motion to utilize the DNR's Clean Water Fund.

School Board Proposes June 3 Referendum - Volunteers Needed for Public Information Campaign

The Baldwin-Woodville Board of Education continued its discussion regarding the recommendation of the Community Facility Needs Exploratory Committee to build a new intermediate school, which was presented at last month's meeting.

Board President Jeff Campbell gave a brief overview of the situation, explaining the committee was formed after space concerns were identified at district buildings. The committee was comprised of citizens, teachers, Campbell and Supt. Rusty Helland. Professional advice was obtained from HSR Architecture Engineering and Kraus-Anderson Construction Company. The committee started its work last April and recommends a new intermediate school for grades three through five be constructed on property owned by the district.

Steve Apfelbacher of Ehlers & Associated Financial Services advised the board that refundable bonds originally issued in 1991 and mature in 2010, can be changed to be due in 2011. This would reduce the tax spike of an other bond issue caused by delayed state aid payments to the district.

"Have bond rates changed?" asked board member John Hinz.

Apfelbacher said they have come down a bit since last month. "They are headed in the right direction," he said.

"If the board wants to build a new school, we need to set a timetable," prompted Supt. Helland.

A lengthy discussion followed concerning the timing of a referendum.

Board members Campbell and Todd Graf agreed that an April 1 referendum to coincide with the spring election doesn't give the board enough time to inform the public.

Apfelbacher said that state law requires the school board to pass the initial resolution more than 45 days before the election and publish formal notices before the election.

Once the resolution is passed, Brad Simonson of HSR said that in his experience it takes four weeks to present the information to the public.

"I think we should wait until the November general election so we can see what our new enrollment figures are and have spent a summer with $3.00 gas," commented Hinz. "We would get good voter turn out for the general election."

"It will probably take two years to build the school," said board member Mike Bondarenko. "Waiting until November seems too long."

Besides, Bondarenko said, "We have already had a really good committee do the research and we need to act, but April seems too soon."

Helland noted the committee used the past ten years of enrollment data in making its recommendation.

John Huenink of Kraus-Anderson agreed that voter turnout could be good at the November election, but said that if the district waits that long inflation starts to increase the cost of construction.

Board member Deb Rasmussen asked fellow board members if a separate question about financing the swimming pool should be included in the referendum. It appeared the rest of the board agreed that the question needs to be asked.

In the end, the board agreed to set June 3, 2008 for the referendum. No formal motion was listed on the agenda, so none was made.

Supt. Helland recommended setting up two committees: Public Relations and Public Presentation, which would include the professional team. Volunteers are needed for the committees and Helland indicated that people have already shown interest. Helland can be contacted at the district office, 684-3411 for information about volunteering for the committees.

During the open forum, district resident Ken Rundhaug questioned the district's choice of architect and engineering firms. "It seems like there were a lot of problems with the past project," he said.

"We looked at a few firms," said Campbell. "We haven't hired anyone yet." HSR and Kraus-Anderson wouldn't be hired until after a referendum is passed.

Helland agreed that there were problems with the past building project and assured Rundhaug that the district is consulting with two different companies than were used at that time.

The board approved continuing to work with HSR, Kraus-Anderson, and Ehlers.

Tom Kortas of LarsonAllen LLP presented the annual district audit report. The total cost of services for 2007 was $16,462,000 according to his report. Of that, 52.7% was for instruction, 7.7% for pupil and instructional services, 10.5% for operations and maintenance, and 6.0% for administration and business.

General state aid accounts for 51.1% of district revenues and 34.7% comes from property taxes. The balance is from fees and grants.

Kortas noted that the fund balance is $1,782.214, up $218,281 from last year. At 16 percent of the total budget, the figure falls in the recommended range of 15 to 20 percent, he said.

Supt. Helland commented that the district needed to short-term borrow just one time last year for a few days until state aid monies were received. The fund balance helps reduce the need to short-term borrow, he said.

Transportation/Athletic Director Wade Labecki informed the board that the district's new television station is on the air as of last Thursday. "It's message oriented right now," he said.
Included on the station right now are menus, schedules, etc. "Film takes a lot more space," Labecki said. "Baldwin Telecom is already expanding our broadband," to accommodate film he said.

Following a closed session a high school student was expelled through the end of the year for a bomb threat, which occurred before the Christmas break, according to Supt. Helland.

New Barn Will Replace One Destroyed in August Windstorm

The new barn taking shape at the Tony and DeAnn Lind place north of Baldwin will replace one destroyed in August's severe windstorm. The new barn has the shape of a traditional barn but incorporates modern building techniques, said builder Arnie Vander Vorst of Vander Vorst and Sons Construction. The superstructure of the new barn is a study of shapes and symmetry.

A work of art and symmetry is going up north of Baldwin, and they don't build them like that anymore, at least very often.

According to contractor Arnie Vander Vorst of Vander Vorst and Sons Construction of River Falls/Hudson, Tony and DeAnn Lind bought their place north of Baldwin because they love the old barn on the property.

That barn was claimed, like many others, in the August storm that roared through a narrow swath of St. Croix County from New Richmond to the southeast.

So Arnie designed a new barn for the Linds, that uses modern building techniques but will result in an old-fashioned look. "I designed it," said Vander Vorst, who has been a contractor since 1961. "We couldn't use timbers" as was done in old barns, so a floor truss system was used.

"We have all the new building technology in it, but we've got it looking like an old barn," he said. "They never had truss rafters in the old days.

Construction of the new barn started in late November.

Vander Vorst said some of the damaged foundation was replaced with concrete before the stick-frame barn was built over it. He said shingling of the structure would be completed Monday.

The siding of the barn will be with rough-sawn pine in board and batten style by Tony Lind, who is employed as a carpenter, said Vander Vorst.

Viking Students Visit Park View

Viking 5th graders went to Park View Nursing Home in Woodville on Thursday, December 20. They prepared a program of holiday songs to share with the residents. Some of the students made cards and delivered them, as well. It was a lot of fun.

Maria Keefer is pictured presenting a resident at Park View Nursing Homewith a homemade card. Jenna Hovde and Olivia Hurd look on.

Wisconsin's 2007 Milk Production Sets 17-year Record Growth; Also Reported in Dairy Exports, Increase in Number of Dairy Cows

At its current pace through mid-December, Wisconsin farmers would produce an estimated 24.1 billion pounds of milk in 2007, the greatest amount since 1990. This reflects a significant private investment by the state's dairy farmers and record milk prices. The record-setting milk production is in addition to dramatic growth in the state's dairy exports, a small but steady increase in the number of dairy cows, and dramatically fewer dairy farms leaving the business.

"Wisconsin's dairy industry and farm families demonstrate why agriculture continues to drive our state economy," Governor Jim Doyle said. "Innovation and continued investment have resulted in unprecedented growth. Growing milk production is allowing our world famous producers to export more cheese and whey, meeting rising demand and keeping our economy

"No other state in the union can boast the quality, quantity or staying power of Wisconsin's family dairy farms," said Agriculture Secretary Rod Nilsestuen. "This is explosive growth in dairy exports unlike anything we've seen. We have room to increase dairy production substantially."

Governor Doyle recently announced his Next Generation Agriculture Plan that includes several initiatives to help dairy plants modernize and expand into growing markets. The plan includes a whey initiative to help plants invest in the growing national and international market for whey, a
dairy plant investment tax credit to help processors modernize and a cheese cooperative tax credit to help cheese cooperatives streamline and modernize. It also includes a nutrient management program to help farmers better manage nutrients and protect water, a grazing lands conservation initiative to help farmers practice more effective land management and a
meat modernization tax credit to help the state's meat processing plants streamline and modernize.

Wisconsin's 14,000 family dairy farms have invested about $1 billion to modernize in the past five years to expand and become more efficient. The Next Generation Agriculture Plan builds on that momentum.

Milk production climbed 3 percent in 2007, driven by strong demand for dairy products, according to figures released by the Wisconsin Agricultural Statistics Service on December 18. Milk production per cow has set a record every month in 2007 compared to the same month the year before.

Dairy exports reached record levels for the first nine months in 2007, driven by soaring demand in developing countries in Asia and Latin America. The dollar value of Wisconsin dairy exports increased from $59 million in the first nine months of 2006 to $127 million in the first nine months of 2007 a 114 percent increase. Exports of whey, a by-product of cheese making, increased by 179 percent.

The number of milk cows continued to trend upward for the second year in a row. The average number of dairy cows in the state increased to 1,248,000 in 2007 up by 5,000 head. The number of dairy cows in the state was higher every month in 2007, compared to the same month the year before.

The decrease in dairy farms has slowed. Ten years ago, herds were declining at more than 1,000 a year. The annual decline in the number of herds in 2007 was only 416.