Thursday, February 19, 2009

Rachelle Veenstra named National Merit Scholarship Finalist

Baldwin-Woodville High School senior Rachelle Veenstra, pictured above with her parents Sylvia and Anson, has advanced to finalist standing in the National Merit Scholarship Program. Finalists will be considered for National Merit Scholarships offered in 2009.
As a finalist, Rachelle has been awarded a Certificate of Merit, presented by Baldwin-Woodville High School Principal Eric Russell. The selection of 8,200 Merit Scholarships winners from the group of more than 15,000 finalists is now in progress. In March, National Merit Scholarship Corporation will begin mailing scholarship offers to winners. News media announcements of Merit Scholar designees will be made in April, May and July.

School board reviews land transfer petitions
 The Baldwin-Woodville Board of Education followed past practices at Monday night's meeting by approving a land transfer into the district and denying a request to transfer property out of the district.
Both landowners present at the meeting had similar reasons for their petitions. They live on the edges of the districts involved and want their children to attend the nearest schools. Busing is usually provided only to district residents.
Superintendent Rusty Helland asked if the petitioners were aware of open enrollment, which they were. He said that many districts, including B-W, will provide student transportation if the district has a bus driving by the residence or the students might be picked up at a nearby district stop.
Neither petitioner was able to find a property of comparable value to swap districts with.
The board approved the petition to transfer property from the Glenwood City School District to the Baldwin-Woodville Area School District. The 2008 value of the property is $121,800. Glenwood City needs to approve the transfer for it to go through. The board denied the petition to transfer property from Baldwin-Woodville to the Spring Valley School District valued at $354,000.
School counselor Carol Lebo introduced the Comprehensive School Counseling Program, the new model being followed by district counselors. The counseling staff received training this past year and explained that it is for all students kindergarten through twelfth grade, not just at-risk students.
"The idea is to be pro-active with students before problems arise," said Viking Middle School counselor Duane Jourdeans, "We're not just crisis-driven anymore."
"The new model has academic standards, based on state and national standards and the program is developed by counselors, teachers and community members," commented Lebo.
The curriculum components include counseling, responsive services, individual planning, and system support. Counseling includes support groups, which Lebo leads at Greenfield Elementary. This year 180 students have participated in various support groups. Responsive services includes one-on-one counseling, and working with community groups, the Ministerial Association for instance, during a crisis situation. The individual planning component is started in seventh grade and continues through high school to assist students in planning for their futures.
"The individual planning helps students choose classes that are best for them and what they are interested in, instead of just picking classes willy-nilly," said High School counselor Kit Smestad.
Board member Mike Bondarenko asked the counselors how they measure the success of the program.
Student surveys, pre-unit and post-unit tests, student grades, graduation rates and post-secondary placement of students measure the success of the program according the school counselors.
In other business, the board approved a 2010 Spanish Club trip to Costa Rica. The estimated cost of the trip is $2,000 per person, which is paid by the participants, who have the opportunity to do fundraising through the club.
Director of Pupil Services Patti Phillipps reported that the Four-year-old Kindergarten advisory board has determined that the program will wait until the 2010-2011 school year to start. The board is still working on sites for the program.
The board approved establishing an Employee Benefit Trust, also known as Fund 73. The purpose of Fund 73 is to cover the district's unfunded liability, which is employee retirement benefits.
Board member Tom Schumacher explained that currently the district funds retirement benefits on a pay-as-you-go basis, meaning just enough for current retirees. The unfunded liability is for future retirees.
During the open forum, district resident Leanne Rice asked if the unfunded liability shows on the district's balance sheet.
Supt. Helland responded that it does.
Budget Committee Chairman John Hinz said the committee met with an advisor who explained that the district would be eligible for state categorical aides is such a fund is established. The state aide is to assist districts in getting started on a Fund 73.
Supt. Helland presented the 2009 Second Friday enrollment figures. As of January 9, 2009 the district has 38 more resident students than on January 11, 2008.
Administrators' reports:
Wade Labecki announced that Roxy Wakeen has been awarded a State Speech Award.
Gary Hoffman announced that Spirit Days are happining at Greenfield Elementary this week.
Eric Russell reported that final exams taken last month challenged students and got them talking about studying. The open campus offered the students added responsibilty, which they handled well, he said.

Village approves employment contracts
 After a closed session at the end of last Wednesday’s regular monthly Village of Baldwin Board meeting, the Board approved employment contracts for the next three years with members of the Department of Public Works union and non-union employees and non-union administrative office employees.
According to Village President Don McGee, the contract calls of increased wages and salaries of three percent for each of the next three years. In return for what McGee termed generous terms, the new contract requires more of a contribution from employees toward health insurance costs in each year of the contract.
McGee said the only employee contracts for village employees left to settle are the police and police clerical.
In other action at the meeting:
-The board approved write-offs of water and sewer bills due to two bankruptcies and because a bill was uncollectable when a former resident moved to another state.
-The board approved a lease of 120 acres to Victor Harris at a price of $50 an acre for 2009. The land is in the village’s new industrial park.
-The board raised the parking ticket fine for parking on village streets overnight during the winter to $20 from $5.
Village Engineer Mike Stoffel of Ayres Associates told the board that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is soliciting projects that are ready to go in March for federal stimulus projects. He said there are only 16 or 17 in the state that will be eligible and that Baldwin doesn’t have one.
-Police Chief Jim Widiker said the Baldwin Police Department applied for an Alcohol Coalition Grant and will receive $8,000. Of that amount, half will be used for labor and half for equipment. Digital recording equipment that will be used for interviews and interrogations will be purchased.
-Department of Public Works Director John Traxler said an insurance company representing the motorist who knocked down a Main Street light pole will depreciate that pole 17% when paying the claim. Traxler said that used replacement poles are non-existent and no labor is figured into the insurance company’s figures. Board members said it would cost more to fight the company’s determination than the extra money that would be received if the village prevailed.

From the Exchanges
    Interesting News Items from
        Surrounding Communities

HUDSON STAR OBSERVER: A Hudson school bus driver remains in the intensive care unit at Regions Hospital in St. Paul following an accident Thursday morning, Feb. 5, at the MR Convenience station store in the town of Hudson. Cheryl Moilanen, 57, was returning to her bus after visiting the convenience store when she was struck by a sport utility vehicle driven by Ann Pierce, 44, of River Falls. The collision knocked Moilanen to the pavement and she struck her head on it, according to Patrol Captain Scott Knudson of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department. St. Croix Emergency Medical Services was called to the scene and took Moilanen by ambulance to Hudson Hospital. A medical helicopter met her there and flew her to Regions. According to a site established to keep loved ones and friends informed about her condition, Moilanen has undergone surgery to lessen pressure from the swelling of her brain.

RIVER FALLS JOURNAL: A wood-burning stove triggered a false alarm Tuesday evening last week after a passerby noticed smoke coming from behind Melgard Monument, 266 Radio Rd. just before 6 p.m. The driver became concerned and called 911, reporting the smoke as a possible structure fire. The River Falls Fire Department responded but found that it was Melgard's outdoor wood-burning stove that raised the driver's suspicions. Smoke but no fire will still cost the company $600, the fee charged to rural fire customers each time the fire department responds. Korey Knott, co-owner with his father of Melgard, said they break up wooden crates to use as fuel in the wood-burning stove. He said it isn't unusual for people to see the smoke and think it's a fire, especially when the wood first goes into the stove. "We usually have one a year," Knott said about the false-alarm fire calls. He said the business appreciates people's concern. He considers it a good year if his company pays for only one false-alarm call. Assistant Fire Chief Mike Moody says false-alarm calls happen more easily with the proliferation of cell phones. He said faulty or oversensitive smoke and carbon monoxide detectors also trigger many false alarms.

AMERY FREE PRESS: Matthew Owen Hoff, 30, Amery, was arrested Saturday, Feb. 7, after St. Croix Falls police were dispatched to MarketPlace Foods for a theft of meat that had just occurred. Dispatch advised that the vehicle was traveling east on USH 8 and the vehicle was located and stopped. Inside, within plain view were several packages of meat with MarketPlace Foods labels on them. Other packages in the vehicle were determined to have belonged to Dick's Fresh Market of Amery. The four occupants in the vehicle all told the officer that Hoff came running out of MarketPlace Foods with his arms full of food, entered the vehicle and told the driver to hurry and leave. A witness to the theft from MarketPlace Foods came to the traffic stop and identified Hoff as the person who ran from the store with the food. Other occupants in the vehicle told the officer that Hoff had also stolen meat and alcohol from Dick's Fresh Market in Amery prior to traveling to St. Croix Falls. Hoff was charged with shoplifting and on a Wisconsin department of corrections warrant.